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02 December 2010

Qatar to Host World Cup, Plans to Keep Players and Fans Cool

Qatar has won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They will host the world football (soccer) competition in June and July of that year. There is just one small problem. The average high temperature during those months is about 44oC, or 111oF. With those temperatures, not only would the players be at serious health risk, so would the fans. Let's be hypothetical here for a second. They play the majority of the games at night to match the United States prime-time viewing hours. Over night low temperatures in Qatar are about 28oC or 83oF in June and July. That is a major improvement, but it is still rather warm, and playing at 3 am doesn't seem like something that FIFA would readily approve of.  Allow me to provide a little perspective. Earlier this year in South Africa temperatures were about 30oC, or 50oF cooler during the games.

Qatar, of course, knew this was going to be a problem when they first bid to host the World Cup. Although Doha was tossed out of bidding for 2016 Summer Olympics, they did try to keep things cooler during the sporting events. Then the solution had been to host the Olympics in October, knocking 10oC or 15oF off temperatures. This time, however, Qatar came up with a different solution to the extreme heat of the Middle East. A look at their bid shows what they plan to do to keep players and fans cool:

Each of the five stadiums will harness the power of the suns rays to provide a cool environment for players and fans by converting solar energy into electricity that will then be used to cool both fans and players at the stadiums. When games are not taking place, the solar installations at the stadia will export energy onto the power grid. During matches, the stadia will draw energy from the grid. This is the basis for the stadiums’ carbon-neutrality. Along with the stadiums, we plan to make the cooling technologies we’ve developed available to other countries in hot climates, so that they too can host major sporting events.
I'm not sure if they plan to dome each of the stadiums, or if the massive air conditioning systems will be affixed to open air stadiums. The former seems to be more likely, but that means the existing stadiums, such as Khalifa International Stadium will need to have extensive renovations. This will be an extremely expensive makeover of Qatari sporting venues. With oil revenues high, FIFA clearly feels that this is an affordable scenario for Qatar. Although I'm not so sure that still leaves the stadiums carbon neutral if they use oil money to build them, but I suppose it is a step in the right direction. Either way, congratulations to Qatar.


  1. Qatar's per capita carbon dioxide emissions are the highest in the world by far and they have been for nearly two decades. Claiming that they're going to use solar power to make these stadiums carbon neutral is a joke. The energy requirements to cool even a moderately sized stadium by 20° are much higher than any reasonable solar installation could attain. Their bid proposal is little better than a list of modern day buzzwords.