PARIS (AP) — Qatar-strophic. Qatar-clysm. The headlines will write themselves if FIFA turns the world of soccer on its head this week by deciding that the 2022 World Cup cannot be played in summer.
Moving the tournament from its usual June-July slot to another time of year when the heat in 2022 host country Qatar isn't such a health hazard would clearly be disruptive, and not just for soccer.
Quite how disruptive— ranging from moderately to massively — isn't yet clear. That will depend to a large extent on what new dates FIFA picks: May or November, for example, at least wouldn't clash with the Winter Olympics in the first few months of 2022.
Still, this much is certain: This whole mess was completely avoidable. The danger of staging the showcase event in the extreme heat of a Gulf summer was laid out in black and white by FIFA before its executive committee picked the oil- and gas-wealthy nation in 2010, in a secret ballot overshadowed by allegations of influence trading and corruption.
"Very hot, sunny and humid summers," FIFA's fact-finders stated in their 34-page report that evaluated the Qatari bid.
Expect average afternoon temperatures of at least 99 degrees, rarely dipping below 88 in the evenings, they added.
And, leaving absolutely no doubt, they warned: "The fact that the competition is planned in June/July, the two hottest months of the year in this region, has to be considered as a potential health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators, and requires precautions."
So can't FIFA bosses read or is it just that they didn't care? Did the 14 executive committee voters (from 22) who backed Qatar against the United States in the final round of voting put personal interests, whatever they might have been, before those of the sport they are meant to safeguard? Or did they believe that Qatar will deliver promised solar-powered, air-conditioning technology to cool the stadiums and other venues? If so, are those promises no longer valid? Why is there a need less than three years later to debate possible wholesale changes to everyone's schedules and plans?
At this point, three years too late, the causes of this public relations disaster — yet another — for FIFA are less important than what the next step should be: the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the bulk of his executive committee.
Because if they decide at their closed-door meeting Friday that a summer World Cup in Qatar isn't reasonable then that can only mean it wasn't reasonable when they opted for it in 2010, either.