Qatar won't host the 2022 World Cup because of the dangers posed by its extreme summer temperatures, FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger said Monday. However, a FIFA spokeswoman said no decision was made on the matter and that Zwanziger was merely stating his personal opinion.
“I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar,” Zwanziger told Sports Bild on Monday, according to Reuters. “Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”
Qatar was unexpectedly awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup after a successful campaign in 2010. The wealthy nation claims that it will be able to combat its extreme summer temperatures through the installation of cooling systems throughout World Cup stadiums and fan zones.
“They may be able to cool the stadiums but a World Cup does not take place only there,” Zwanziger added. “Fans from around the world will be coming and traveling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor. … That is not something that FIFA ExCo members want to answer for.”
Zwanziger’s statement doesn't represent an official confirmation that FIFA would revoke Qatar’s bid, organization officials told Haaretz. “He is expressing a personal opinion and he explicitly says so,” FIFA spokeswoman, Delia Fischer, said. “We will not comment on a personal opinion.”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in May that awarding Qatar hosting rights was a “mistake.” The organization will reportedly consider moving the tournament to Europe. Top officials have also mulled the possibility of holding the World Cup in the winter months, rather than its usual mid-summer start date.
Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid has been continuously marred by allegations of corruption and poor treatment of laborers. A June report from the London Sunday Times claimed former Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam paid £3 million ($4.9 million) in bribes to secure hosting rights for Qatar.