July 17 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Wednesday the 2022 World Cup should be switched to the winter months because of the blistering heat in Qatar during the summer.
“The World Cup must be a festival of the people. But for it to be such a festival, you can’t play football in the summer,” Blatter told a conference in Kitzbuehel, Austria.
“You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country and you can’t simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup. The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup.”
Blatter has previously said that any request to change the timing of the 2022 World Cup would have to come from the organisers. In March he said the World Cup was a competition “that has to be played in June and July”.
He said on Wednesday, however, that FIFA had not taken the heat problem properly into consideration when the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
“We must protect our partners, our sponsors, our television partners. We must be very strong about this. We still have enough time. I will open discussions in the executive committee in October,” Blatter told reporters.
”The executive committee will most certainly follow my proposal. And then we will have dealt with the topic for good.
”We have to have the courage - that is FIFA’s executive committee - to play this World Cup in the winter and to start to work out now what impact this will have on the international calendar.
“It would only be for one year, afterwards you’d be back to the normal routine. But I will advocate that.”
The head of the organising committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi, told the conference in Austria by video link: “If it’s a wish of the football community to have the World Cup in winter, then we are open to that.” (Reporting By Robert Woodward; editing by Toby Davis)