Soccer-Qatar maintains can host 2022 World Cup in summer

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Qatar has maintained it can host the 2022 World Cup in summer even as pressure mounts on FIFA to switch it to winter to save players and fans from intense heat in the tiny Gulf nation. The energy-rich nation, where summer temperatures top 45 degree celsius, was awarded the World Cup three years ago in a surprise decision. Qatar said it was open to a switch to winter dates but reiterated that despite the extreme heat, it could stage the World Cup in summer by building air-conditioned stadiums using newly environmentally-friendly technology. "We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises," the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement on Friday. "If the international football community asks us to move the timetable for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar we are able to do so, but the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies remains an important legacy issue for our nation, region and many countries with similar climates." How fans will deal with the heat away from the stadiums remains a worry and FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently said it was a mistake to plan for a summer tournament in the desert state. The Qatar organising committee tried to allay those fears saying solar-powered, air-conditioning technology could solve the problems. "Creating comfortable conditions for public areas, walkways, training pitches and stadiums both during and after the World Cup means being able to play and watch football matches in summer throughout the country," the organising committee added. "Cooling technology has existed at Jassim bin Hamad (Al Sadd) Stadium since 2008. This June the stadium (in Doha) hosted a FIFA World Cup qualifier in cool and comfortable conditions. "We are now in the process of developing and perfecting sustainable cooling technologies ... to ensure that our Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, training grounds and fan zones offer the optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games." European football federations have agreed it would be "impossible" to stage the tournament in summer. [ID: nL3N0HF2FL] Calls to move the World Cup to the northern hemisphere winter have also met criticism as it would disrupt domestic league competitions in European countries. Last week, the association representing European clubs said they would not be opposed to a re-scheduling of the tournament but added they wanted to be consulted about the new timing. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)