To address health concerns raised before host nation selection, air-conditioned stadiums loomed large in Qatar’s bid, but that only addressed the interior heat problem. A proposed solar-powered stadium does nothing to offset the energy-guzzling, mechanically cooled venues growing up to support the visiting hordes of players, fans, media, corporate sponsors and the workforce imported to cater to their needs.
“You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country,” said FIFA President Sepp Blatter, although there was talk of blanketing the Doha skies with artificial clouds to shade the city.
Speaking at a two-day conference on sports, media and economy in Austria, Blatter said, “If this World Cup is to become a party for the people, you can’t play football in the summer.” (Blatter refuses to say if he backed Qatar’s original bid.)
A more realistic solution to overcome the oppressive heat is to switch the 2022 World Cup to a winter event, and, according to the BBC, Blatter has stated his intention to make that happen. The move would likely anger fans, overhauling tradition and disrupting playing schedules for domestic leagues across Europe.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of the Qatar organizing committee, said that although Qatar bid for a summer tournament, he would consider a change to another season. “If there is a wish from the football community to move the World Cup to the winter, we are open for it,” said Al-Thawadi, according to the New York Times.
“There is still enough time,” Blatter said. “I will bring this up to the executive committee.” Stay tuned as this ball goes in and out of play.