Platini: World Cup can't be played in heat

PARIS - UEFA president Michel Platini has stepped up the pressure to adopt his idea of a winter World Cup co-hosted in several Gulf countries in 2022 by saying it was untenable to play in the "55 degrees" desert summer heat.

Platini, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee who gave the World Cup to Qatar last month, has said the finals should be spread around the region, an idea Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, has rebuffed.

FIFA has said that at the moment there are "no concrete plans" to switch the timing of the finals from the summer to the winter months but that statement carries little weight.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said this month he "expected" the finals to be staged in winter but the Qataris have not yet formed an organising committee for the finals and detailed debate has not started.

Platini told Wednesday's edition of the French sports daily L'Equipe: "It's imperative to have the best possible conditions for the players, the spectators and all those who intend to go to Qatar in 2022. It (a winter World Cup) is not such a stupid idea is it?

"The best way to promote this competition is not to play it in 55 Celsius (131 Fahrenheit) degree heat.

"I'm in favour of playing it in winter and sharing out the matches among several Gulf countries. This would be good for the development of football in the region."

Qatar won the right to stage the finals in Zurich last month and are currently hosting the Asian Cup, the continent's top international tournament comprising 16 teams.

The conditions are good for soccer in Qatar in January, although several matches at night were played in very cold weather.

Referring to a summer World Cup, Platini added:

"The stadiums will be air conditioned but the streets and the beaches won't. When it's 55 degrees no one goes out, while when it's 30C degrees (86F), like in January, it's different. For all football lovers, a winter World Cup in several Gulf countries would be ideal.

"I was in South Africa (for last year's World Cup) and at five in the evening it was cold and already dark. In June/July 2022 in Qatar, it will be oppressively hot."

Platini agreed that holding the World Cup in winter would mean a change to the international football calendar, adding: "It's a complex problem."

"We will know the dates of the tournament long enough in advance to decide to stop (domestic) football for a month or a month and a half.

"Whether it be in January, in October or in March, we can do it. Where's the problem?", Platini asked.