Qatar plans air-conditioned stadiums

DUBAI, April 28 (Reuters) - Qatar will build 12 air-conditioned outdoor stadiums if it wins the right to host the 2022 World Cup, officials said on Wednesday.

The new venues would use solar power to provide what officials say will be optimum pitch-side conditions despite the scorching Arabian sun.

The $4 billion Qatar World Cup bid has been dismissed by many as a publicity stunt because of ferocious summer temperatures that can top 50 degrees Celsius but organisers say they can harness this power to create carbon-neutral arenas.

"The peak performance for a player is reached between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius and we can guarantee 27 degrees on the pitch," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, son of the Emir of Qatar.

"It's time for the World Cup to come to the Middle East. A global sporting event of this calibre, if it comes here, will bring a whole burst of life to the region."

Solar thermal collectors on the stadium roof will transfer and store energy which on match days will chill water, creating cold air that will be delivered into the stadium and on to the pitch through slots in the seats.

The system will continuously export energy to the Qatar electric grid, enabling the stadiums to be carbon neutral, officials added.

World football's ruling body FIFA will decide the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December.

Australia, England, Japan, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Spain/Portugal and United States are bidding for the 2018 or 2022 finals.

Qatar and South Korea are bidding for the finals in 2022 only.