Qatar plans 2020 WCup in summer, but flexible

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By ROB HARRIS, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Qatar organizers are pushing ahead with plans to hold the 2022 World Cup in the summer, although they're willing to host in the winter.

UEFA President Michel Platini has led calls to play the tournament in the cooler winter months. FIFA's ruling body also could move the dates because of medical concerns about the desert heat.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Thursday that Qatar would have to request a shift to winter — and the organizers responded that they are "committed to delivering on the promises we made to FIFA" before winning the vote in 2010.

"Our bid was based on the sole intent of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the summer," the Doha-based organizing committee said Friday in a statement.

"Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter," the organizers said. "We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn't affected either way, as we are committed to the cooling technologies."

Air-conditioned stadiums to beat the 122-degree heat in June and July were a defining theme of Qatar's campaign to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time.

Qatar promised FIFA during the bid process that its 12 World Cup stadiums could be regulated to 79 degrees.

"We committed considerable resources during the bidding process to prove that the cooling technology (which will cool open-air stadiums, training grounds and outdoor fan areas) works," the Qatar statement said. "The technology is already in use since 2008 at Al Sadd Stadium."

Organizers also responded to concerns expressed last week by FIFA medical chief Michel D'Hooghe about how fans and officials would cope in the summer heat.

"We are offering solutions to keep players and fans cool and comfortable — and developing those solutions to ensure that they are environmentally sustainable," organizers said.

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