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Monday 11 December 2017

Winter World Cup future

World Cups held in the winter could become "the norm", according to a senior Qatar 2022 official.

FIFA's task force looking into the timing of the tournament met earlier this week and Qatar 2022 communications chief Nasser Al Khater conceded there was some resistance among clubs to move the World Cup to avoid the extreme heat of June and July.

Al Khater said: "There's obviously some resistance to move to break away from tradition, that's normal, that's natural but a lot of people believe this is the World Cup and belongs to the world.

"This could be the first time a World Cup is moved in terms of timings and maybe this becomes the norm for the future and becomes a template that we can move.

"Everyone agrees this is the most important sports tournament in the world and we need to make sure it is as successful as it can be. It does not affect our planning or delivery so long as there is a consensus."

Al Khater said trials of cooling technology for fan-fests and training facilities had worked well.

He also said he was "absolutely" confident that FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia's report into World Cup bidding will not prove fatal for Qatar.

"We've always been confident of our position, of the way we have carried ourselves in the bidding stage and after," Al Khater said.

"We are confident and you see that reflected in our delivery and how we are approaching things.

"We are 500-people-strong working tirelessly day in and day out."

European clubs have refused to rule out a summer World Cup, however, saying they want "strong, decisive" reasons before accepting a decision to move to winter.

The European Clubs' Association (ECA) said that cooling technology for stadiums and training areas had been a key part of Qatar's successful bid.

ECA vice-chairman Umberto Gandini said: "It would be very, very important to have strong arguments to convince the European game to disrupt its season in favour of a World Cup in another part of the year."

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