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03 March 2024

Michel Platini renews Qatar winter World Cup call

By Staff with Agencies

UEFA president Michel Platini renewed his call on Friday for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be switched to the winter to avoid the crushing heat of a Gulf summer and shared with neighbouring countries.

A winter tournament would be "good for everyone" - organisers, spectators and the media, the head of European football's governing body told the Dubai International Sports Conference.

"It would be a good thing" if the tournament were shared with neighbouring Gulf states, Platini added, recalling that he had nonetheless backed Qatar's bid to host it.

Qatar has undertaken to air-condition all of the stadiums for 2022, but there has been criticism of the cost and environmental impact, as well as of the outdoor temperatures facing travelling fans which Platini has warned could reach 55 degrees Celsius (131 degrees Fahrenheit).

The UEFA chief has previously called for the tournament to be played between November and December 2022, to avoid a clash with the January 2022 Winter Olympics, but that has raised issues with big European clubs as it clashes with their domestic seasons.

“I have been criticised by the English press columnists but popularity has nothing to do with ethics,” said Platini who has been president of the European football body since 2007.

While talking about the expansion of soccer all over the world, he said: “Football has changed a lot over the past 30 years. It used to be an European and South American sports. Later we were joined by Asia, Africa and North America. Many investors are interested in having a stake considering it huge popularity and potential.
“It brings lot of money, but we have to remain passionate and we have to be careful to protect this sports worldwide.”

On the idea of having the Qatar World Cup being played outside Qatar as well, he added: “Qatar deserve to host the World Cup. If Qatar wishes to extend this might be a good idea. You have to ask Qatar or the future president of Fifa to have a clear answer on this one.”
Regarding the changes he observed in football, Platini said: “When I started to play they gave 20 Euros a month. I never knew I could make money by playing football. Now the game has changed a lot and today a player is a piece of wealth.”
On the chances of expanding the game to Asia, he said: “This is a beginning but we have to give more momentum to football in Asia. In Europe the game has been there for 100s of years. In China and India, they don’t play much football there, which means this is a problem for Asia. You have to give passion and love to Asia. This is really important.”
“The large clubs like Barcelona are going to China to train there, which is good, but we have to devise a special program to develop Asia into a football continent.”

The two-day sports event attracted elite groups of sports leaders, coaches and decision makers including Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, Argentinian World Cup hero Diego Maradona, former England manager Fabio Capello and Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao.