FIFA’s 2015 decision to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from winter to summer has complicated an already anxious situation — one in which corruption and human rights issues have been ongoing concerns.
“The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, the first in a Middle Eastern, Arab and Muslim country. It is a done deal,” announced Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which oversees the Qatar World Cup, in November.
Granted, the longest distance between World Cup stadiums in Qatar will be just 35 miles — significantly shorter than in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup.
But the quadrennial tournament’s 28-day run in Qatar will end on Dec. 18, rather than take place during the traditional months of June and July. In Qatar, high temperatures at that time of year can reach 108 degrees Fahrenheit6. At the end of the year, by comparison, temperatures likely will be in the 70s and 80s.
Additionally, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy recently assured Indian reporters that the outdoor air-cooling technology used in outdoor spaces in Qatar since 2008 continues to be refined, and it rely on renewable energy for its effectiveness.
“We’re still going ahead with the air-cooling technology,” Nasser Al Khater, the Supreme Committee’s assistant secretary general, told ESPNFC.com in November. “The stadiums will still have the air-cooling technology. The World Cup will finish, but the stadiums will stay.”
Al Khater went on to encourage other countries near the equator to bid for major sporting events in the future.
While Qatar attempts to tame the heat, professional leagues will be scrambling to figure out how to play their seasons without some of their star players, who will be representing their national teams.
As For The Win points out, “these leagues are all playing in November and December, and there is a LOT of money to be made in those two months, in TV rights deals, ticket sales, etc.”
The article also predicts that some leagues might alter their schedules or risk negatively impacting income and ratings. Leagues are still kicking around their options.
Climate control on fields is not actually a new technique; owners of sports facilities with artificial turf have long used consistent irrigation to cool down synthetic fields, which tend to hold heat. In addition, some synthetic fields in cold-weather areas use a built-in warming system under the turf in order to melt snow and ice and keep fields playable.
Whether Qatar’s technology migrates to the United States for use on fields in warm climates remains to be seen; however, for those sports event owners seeking to host events on synthetic fields in hot areas, asking about such technology – and in lack of those, requesting that fields be kept watered and asking about ancillary systems such as misting stations – can go a long way toward participants’ comfort.