LONDON - FIFA could allow matches at the
2022 World Cup finals in Qatar to be played over three 30-minute
periods if temperatures in the stadiums became dangerously high
for the players, a senior stadium engineer told delegates at a
conference on Wednesday.
Michael Beavon, a director of Arup Associates who helped to
develop the zero-carbon solar technology that will cool the 12
stadiums, told delegates at the Qatar Infrastructure Conference
in London that the air-cooling would maintain a comfortable
temperature of around 24 degrees Celsius in the stadiums.
"There is a moderate risk of heat injury to the players
between 24C-29C but if you go above that you have high and
extreme risk of injury.
"The one thing FIFA do say, although it is for guidance, is
if it's 32C they will stop a match and play three 30-minute
thirds rather than two 45-minute halves.
"The reason would be to re-hydrate the players before they
could carry on playing. That of course would play havoc with TV
schedules and those kind of things.
"The commitment from Qatar was to provide conditions in the
moderate band, so that matches would go ahead and be played as
normal. Matches have to be played at an acceptable temperature
and in safety so that FIFA do not intervene."
A FIFA spokesman told Reuters: "This possibility has not
been discussed. In any case, this would require a change in the
Laws of the Game, and therefore would have to be analysed and
approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB)
in the first place."
The laws of the game state that a match will last for two
periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed by the
referee and both teams, though any changes to the usual
45-minute halves have always been to reduce the playing time for
Beavon said that when FIFA's inspection team evaluating the
World Cup bids for 2022 visited Qatar in September last year,
the external temperature was 44 Celsius - very similar to the
external conditions there will be at the World Cup.
"During those conditions we had to demonstrate to them that
we could create a comfortable, open-air environment, using zero
carbon technologies in the stadiums.
"There are no actual requirements for the players, but 70
percent of their comfort issues surround heat and humidity and
we have to keep the heat and humidity at bay.
"Players have to sweat their heat off when they are running
around, and in this environment there is a risk of injury when
you go above certain temperatures.
"I think FIFA are doing the right thing in having a
contingency if the temperature was to rise above 29C in the
stadium. It is very forward-thinking of them to take the
players' safety into account, but I am convinced that the
cooling systems will be 100 percent reliable.
"Over the next 11 years the technology will be improved and
of course there will be a back-up system. With a solar-powered
system it is almost 100 percent guaranteed now, and we have no
real fears that it would fail."
Qatar was controversially awarded the finals last December,
beating off bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the
United States in the process.
The two-day conference in London highlighted the enormous
infrastructure changes being planned for the Gulf state between
now and 2030 which include new motorways, metro and rail
projects, many of which are planned to be completed well before
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