08/10/2013 10:37 EDT | Updated 10/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Qatar says it deserves World Cup after English FA suggests FIFA should consider new 2022 host

LONDON - Insisting they deserve the chance to stage the World Cup, Qatar's football leaders on Saturday hit back at their English counterparts for suggesting that FIFA consider taking the 2022 tournament away from the desert nation.

New English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke incensed the Qataris by arguing that the heat in the tiny emirate could be "very dangerous" and calling on FIFA to find a new location for the World Cup or anger European leagues by rescheduling it in winter.

Concerns about Qatar's plans have mounted since its bid surprisingly triumphed in 2010 despite being declared "high risk" by FIFA's own inspection team, which highlighted the sweltering summer heat in the Persian Gulf where temperatures can hit 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit).

But the Qataris on Saturday insisted that they could deliver football's biggest event and that the 2010 vote was the "right decision."

"Football is the most popular sport in the Middle East and the people of our region deserve the opportunity to have history made in their part of the world," the Qatar World Cup supreme committee said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We are committed to delivering on the promises we made in our successful bid. We are ready to host in summer or winter."

Although the English FA is open to rescheduling the tournament for the cooler winter months in Qatar, the English Premier League is firmly against any changes that would disrupt its August-May season.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter recently agreed that his executive committee should consider in October whether the showpiece event should be moved to the winter, having described a summer tournament in Qatar as "not rational and reasonable."

"We have always maintained that this issue requires the agreement of the international football community," the Qatar statement said. "A decision to alter the dates of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would not affect our infrastructure planning."

Qatar planned to counter the extreme heat by building air-conditioned stadiums, but potential health concerns remain for players, fans and officials travelling around the country — an issue the organizers didn't address on Saturday.

"The development of environmentally friendly cooling technologies is an important legacy issue for our nation, region and in countries with similar climates," the statement said after Dyke questioned how air conditioning stadiums fits with a "green policy."

Oil-wealthy Qatar successfully saw off rival bids from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia to land the World Cup, allowing FIFA to take the tournament to a new frontier.

"Clearly people wanted to take football to a place like Qatar where there's no footballing tradition," Dyke said. "But it wasn't thought through properly ... if thousands of fans turn up for a tournament in Qatar it could be very dangerous."


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