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Tuesday, November 16, 2010
FIFA exec questions Qatar World Cup credentials

A senior FIFA figure has questioned Qatar's claim that air-conditioning can deal with their searing summer heat problem and allow the 2022 World Cup to take place in the Middle Eastern country.

Qatar has emerged as a strong contender to host the tournament despite having to face issues surrounding the heat, which averages more than 40 degrees Celsius in June and July and last summer topped 50 degrees, and the small size of the country and population.

The Qatar bid team has said air conditioning the stadiums can lower the temperatures into the low 30s, but American Chuck Blazer, a long-standing member of the FIFA executive committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on December 2, does not believe this is enough.

"You can air condition a stadium, but I don't see how you can air-condition an entire country," Blazer told the Wall Street Journal.

The USA are bidding against Qatar along with Australia and outsiders South Korea and Japan. The publication of the FIFA bid inspectors' evaluation reports on Wednesday is expected to provide further questions about the World Cup being staged in Qatar.

As well as the heat, the size of the country is an issue; Qatar has a population of less than one million, 80 percent of who live in the country's capital Doha and its surrounding suburbs.

A special meeting of the FIFA executive committee has been called on Friday in Zurich with only two items on the agenda: to discuss the evaluation reports and the outcome of the FIFA ethics committee hearing.

Some FIFA insiders believe there may be a move to bar Qatar from the bid process on technical grounds if the evaluation report raises too many high-risk problems.

On Monday, the head of Qatar's bid insisted they were "now credible contenders'' and bid chief executive Hassan Al Thawadi told the Aspire4Sport conference in Doha of his confidence in the bid.

"Our enthusiasm for the sport rivals any other country on the planet," Al Thawadi said. "The weather posed many concerns but we acknowledged the issue and we continue to overcome this. The benefits of our bid have won over many sceptics.''

FIFA's ethics committee will announce its findings on Thursday into separate investigations into corruption and collusion claims.

Two FIFA executive committee members, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, have been alleged by the Sunday Times to have asked for cash for projects in exchange for votes. Other low-ranking FIFA officials also face sanctions, and all deny any wrongdoing.

The collusion allegation is that Qatar and Spain/Portugal, who are bidding against England for 2018, have done a deal for votes in contravention of FIFA rules.

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