Is Qatar really too hot to host the World Cup?
One of the first criticisms of Qatar 2022 that was put to FIFA during the controversial bidding process 12 years ago was “Qatar is too hot to host a football tournament”.
And that’s true. In the summer months when the World Cup is traditionally played, Qatar is way too hot. As much as 20 degrees too hot, as it happens.
Qatar’s bid claimed the country would build ultra-cool air conditioned stadiums to keep players at adequate temperatures during the height of the summer. But with thousands of fans pouring into the country in June and July, and with games taking place sometimes in the middle of the day, it just didn’t seem feasible.
And so, FIFA decided to shake up football’s global calendar by staging the World Cup in the middle of winter instead. The 2022 World Cup is unique for many different reasons but particularly because it falls in the middle of Europe’s domestic season, and has disturbed a number of other leagues around the world.
But how hot will it be in Qatar? Here RadioTimes.com looks at the issues facing players and fans this November and December…
For more World Cup features check out: World Cup 2022 TV schedule | World Cup 2022 kits ranked | World Cup 2022 stadiums | Best players at the World Cup
There’s no getting away from it. Qatar is hot. Temperatures in Doha can reach as high as 45°c in the summer, and even on cold days the mercury still reaches 30°c. Qatar’s climate is dry and hot, but what’s even worse for athletes in the summer months is that it’s also incredibly humid. Moist air comes in from the Persian Gulf and sticks to everything it meets.
Playing elite-level football in Qatar in the middle of summer is near-impossible. Even watching from the stands would be exhausting, and there would be a very real danger of supporters suffering from dehydration and heatstroke.
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While plenty of football fans question FIFA’s decision to award Qatar the World Cup, there was certainly no question that, once the country had the hosting rights, the tournament needed to be moved to winter.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup kicks off on 20th November and runs for a month until the final in Doha on 18th December. There will be 64 games played, before players turn back to their clubs and continue their domestic campaigns.
This is going to be a gruelling tournament for the players, no matter the temperature. Thankfully, Qatar’s winter climate is less intrusive for both athletes and supporters.
Average November temperatures vary from 19°c to 29°c, while it can drop as low as 17°c in December. If you’re travelling to Qatar, you’ll probably want to bring a jacket as night-time temperatures can drop to as low as 14°c.
Adding air conditioning to stadiums at the World Cup was one of the big technological innovations that the host country boasted it was capable of doing. The idea is to build air conditioning vents close to the pitch side, so that the players remain cool even if they’re playing under intense sunshine. Exactly how much of this cool air would be recycled back towards spectators, it was hard to determine, although under-seat vents are expected to be running at full blast.
Lead engineer Dr Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani – nicknamed ‘Dr Cool’ – spoke to FIFA in the summer and explained how the massive air conditioning units in each stadium would work.
“We are not just cooling the air, we're cleaning it,” said Dr. Saud. “We're purifying the air for spectators. For example, people who have allergies won't have problems inside our stadiums. We have the cleanest and purest air there is.”
He added: “The most important thing to cool effectively is that you don't want the outside wind to enter the stadium. That's why the size and design of the stadium have to be studied and altered accordingly so that they block warm air from entering the stadium.”
However, at a test event at the Lusail Stadium in September between Saudi team Al-Hilal and Egypt’s Zamalek, supporters complained of a lack of air conditioning, water shortages and long walks in 35°c heat.
Water bottles and food are expected to be taken from fans when they enter the stadium, so supporters will need to ensure they have enough money to buy water on the terraces.
Check out our World Cup hub for all the latest from Qatar 2022, including match previews, predictions and analysis.
If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Sport hub.
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