PARIS: Qatar’s neighboring countries could host games at the 2022 World Cup, according to FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
Qatar was designated the 2022 World Cup last week, despite fears the intense heat poses a serious health risk if the tournament is played in summer.
In an interview with sports daily L’Equipe on Thursday, Blatter said Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid proposed some matches could be held in New Zealand, and Qatar could likewise have neighboring countries host games. He didn’t say which countries.
“Australia, in its candidacy bid, proposed to give several matches to New Zealand,” Blatter told L’Equipe.
“I think it could be the same in Qatar and that some matches could take place in nearby countries.”
FIFA was right to award Qatar the World Cup, Blatter reiterated, because football needs to expand from its traditional strongholds.
“With Qatar, we are opening football to a new world and a new culture,” Blatter said.
“The Arab world, which has tried several times with Morocco or Egypt for example to host the World Cup, could legitimately lay claim to hosting this.”
Qatar also beat Japan, United States, and South Korea to win.
Qatar has huge financial means to ensure a state-of-the art cooling system in stadiums and training grounds to combat desert heat. Ruled by the Al Thani family, the tiny Gulf nation has committed $42.9 billion for infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build nine stadiums and renovate three others. All the stadiums plan to keep temperatures at about 27 degrees Celsius (81 Fahrenheit).
Blatter says finance was not a primary motivation for awarding the tournament to Qatar.
“If we had wanted to make money, we would have gone to the United States,” Blatter said.
“You must not forget that they (Qatar) have been making efforts for a while and have already hosted FIFA competitions” like the under-20 World Cup.