The 2022 FIFA World Cup will not be held in Qatar as scheduled -- at least according to FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger. The claim comes in response to global concern about the effect the peninsula's extremelty high temperatures could have on players and fans alike.
"They may be able to cool the stadiums, but a World Cup does not take place only there," Zwanziger said in response to Qatar's promises to make the environment as mild as possible, in an interview with German magazine Sport Bild Plus, picked up by London'sGuardianand other outlets. "Medics say that they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions."
FIFA officials, however, emphasize that Zwanziger voiced only his opinion and not the general consensus of the executive committee. Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy is confident the Cup will not move, saying in a press release from spokesman Nasser Al Khater, "Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, despite comments of Dr. Zwanziger, which reflect his personal opinion and not that of FIFA," Agence France-Presse reports.
The political climate in Qatar has also been a concern since it was named of the host country in 2010. The nation has been criticized for the conditions in which its migrant workers work and live, and Qatar remains one of the few nations where homosexuality is illegal, says Piara Powar, director of Football Against Racism in Europe.
Last year Powar urged FIFA to put pressure on Qatar to increase tolerance efforts prior to the Cup, saying, "Qatar wants to host the tournament at the start of a new decade; they will want to present an internationally welcoming face, and with FIFA's help, we are sure it will be possible to win over the Qataris so that they come into line with the rest of the world -- including other countries in the Gulf and Middle East -- and change the law on homosexuality."