Blatter backs winter World Cup

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ABU DHAB - FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Friday he was happy for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be played in the European winter rather than the traditional summer months to avoid the searing heat in the Middle East.

"I definitely support to play in winter here (in the Middle East)," Blatter told a news conference at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.

"To play when the climate is appropriate and I'm thinking about the footballers, not only the fans but the actors," he said referring to the intense heat of summer in Qatar, where temperatures can go above 50 degrees Celsius.

Since Qatar was awarded the staging of the 2022 finals earlier this month, there have been suggestions from leading figures like Franz Beckenbauer that the FIFA calendar should be altered for that year.

"The actors giving the spectacle, this is very important to protect the footballers and if this is possible, but it should be possible with the will, where there's a will there's a way," Blatter said.

"It's a question of the international calendar but again it's in 11 and half years till this can be done."

Blatter arrived in Abu Dhabi from Qatar where he attended an official ceremony marking the country's successful bid.

Another issue that has come up over the tiny Gulf state's hosting of a 32-team World Cup, is whether Qatar might farm out some matches to neighbouring countries.

"This was an item which on the table yesterday but... I cannot give the, I would say, the backing or non-backing of these ideas by Qatari organisation," he said.

"I also met his highness the Emir and the leadership not only of football but of the country. This is something that must come out from Qatar so please address your questions directly to Qatar.

"I can say that all these (Gulf) countries, they are very happy first of all that the World Cup is going to the Middle East... and they are interested, I say, a little bit more than interested to then be part of this competition, but it is a wish. It's easy to say but it's not so easy to realise."