Football: Uefa's gen sec backs winter World Cup in Qatar

LONDON (AFP) - Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino on Friday added his weight to calls for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be staged later in the year owing to concerns over weather conditions.

The quadrennial tournament is currently scheduled to take place at the height of the Qatari summer, when temperatures in the Gulf state can reach an inhospitable 50 deg C.

Qatar plans to spend around £65 billion (S$125.4 billion) to install air-conditioning systems at stadiums and other venues, but both Fifa president Sepp Blatter and his Uefa counterpart Michel Platini have called for the tournament to be moved from its traditional slot in the middle of the year.

Average temperatures in Qatar are markedly cooler in December, with highs of 24 deg C and lows of 15 deg.

Although the major European leagues oppose the proposed changes, owing to a reluctance to alter their schedules, Infantino says the World Cup should take account of each host country's specific climactic conditions.

"Whenever you play the World Cup should be the best period for it. I had the same reflections on South Africa in 2010," he said in an interview with British newspaper The Times.

"Four years earlier in Germany, it was nice sunshine. South Africa is a beautiful country, but at five o'clock, it's night and it's zero deg. It's not a celebration of football."

Infantino also said he was puzzled by the historical insistence that football should always be played during the winter.

"You see people in stadiums with hats and scarves," he said. "Why did England, who brought to us this beautiful game, decide that football is for the winter and not for the summer? Cricket.

"The month of June, which is the most beautiful month to play football, is hardly ever used except for the Euros and the World Cup. But the World Cup is played only every 12 years, more or less, in Europe.

"I fully share this view that you have to play in the best period for football; that is not June or July in Qatar. This is an issue that Fifa has to sort out.

"The sooner they do it, the better. The decision for 2022 was taken in 2010, so in 12 years you can organise yourself."

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