|A Qatari football fan attends the 2011 Asian Cup quarter-final football match between Japan and Qatar at Al-Gharafa Stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on January 21, 2011. AFP|
ROME, Jan 24, 2011 (AFP) - Switching the dates of the 2022 World Cup finals to be hosted by Gulf state Qatar from its tradtional mid year date to December would not be a problem, claimed European football's supremo Michel Platini on Monday.
FIFA's decision to award the World Cup to Qatar - a tiny oil-rich nation where temperatures in summer regularly soar past 43 degrees - has attracted a firestorm of controversy.
But UEFA president Platini said that despite protests raised by Europe's major leagues over the disruption that would cause he could see it being switched.
"If we played in summer, the matches could be played in temperatures of 55 degrees," said the former France football great, who was praised widely for his heading up the organising of the 1998 finals.
"It is because of this that I have given my assent to the possibility of playing it in the winter, but that does not mean everything should be turned on its head.
"That depends on the federations and the clubs, and the important things is that all this should be addressed to FIFA, who have the final say on the international calendar.
"If we all decide to suspend the domestic championships for a month-and-a-half from December to January, it won't be a huge problem, in fact no problem at all in my opinion," added Platini.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter had already expressed his desire to switch to winter dates, though he was rebuffed by Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Bin Hammam told Sky News in an interview on January 14 that he was "unimpressed" by Blatter's suggestion.
He also took aim at remarks by Platini earlier in January that the 2022 tournament could be a "Gulf World Cup", with matches taking place in several countries surrounding Qatar.
Bin Hammam's stinging rebuttal of Blatter's comments are certain to fuel speculation that the Qatari is planning to challenge the FIFA chief at elections later this year.