Saturday, August 10, 2013

Warming-up for the World Cup

World Cup Stadium
Worries over the summer temperature in the tiny Arab state of Qatar, caught my eye on the news this morning.

Of course, we all know that by a stroke of remarkable good fortune and generosity by FIFA, Qatar was awarded the role of host for the next football World Cup. At the same time, most of us know that it does get rather hot there; often as high as 50 degrees Celsius in mid-summer.

I've been to Qatar several times on business and in the summer too. Like the FA and Greg Dyke, I share the concern, that regardless of the multi-billion dollar preparations to keep the new football stadia down to a baking 30C, fans might actually expire from heat-stroke simply trying to get from their hotels to the matches.

The last time I tried to walk to one of the big shopping malls a few hundred yards from the hotel, I was carrying a litre of water but still gave-up and retreated back to the air conditioning inside a few hundred yards. If you can imagine standing in front of a three bar electric heater, then that's the image that came into my mind as I left my hotel and I've a history of competing in insane temperatures up to 40C; across the Sahara desert, and running-up the snake path to the Dead Sea summit of Herod's Masada fortress in Israel, among them.

It takes at least ten days for the body to adapt to the kinds of temperatures expected at the next World Cup and while I'm sure the players will be training at some luxury desert resort, fans will step off the aircraft into the jaws of a blast furnace. That in fact was my first impression of going to work in Saudi Arabia over thirty years ago. Anyone overweight and with a heart condition will be at risk. Only last month, we witnessed the tragedy of what happened to three soldiers competing for SAS selection when they were overtaken, unacclimatised, by the sudden heat wave in this country.

All said though, I doubt Greg Dyke's worries will make any difference to the dates of the World Cup at all. Given the huge amounts of money at stake, the possible fate of a few, over-heated heated fans is of little concern to FIFA or the the football authorities.

Bring a hat, a portable air-conditioning unit and several bottles of factor 150 sun cream if you are thinking of going.


Anonymous said...

I can't understand this. If the weather is known for being so extreme, why was Qatar even allowed to try for this competition ? Surely someone knew that there was a chance they would win the bid, and they did, so why weren't the conditions considered at the time ? Isn't it similar to Alaska applying and winning the bid and then the organisers saying it would be too cold ? This seems most unfair to Qatar, they should not have been allowed to bid in the first place and now that the problems are being considered, it would be most unfair to withdraw the teams for fear of heatstroke and they not being able to cope. Whoever is organising this should be held to account. The game MUST go ahead and the consequences handled as it is not the Qataris fault. I wouldn't worry though, the England footballers are not known for working up a sweat or applying much effort. It is the loyal supporters I feel sorry for.

1 o'clock Rob said...

Qatar in October is normally in the mid to high 30's and often only bearable in short doses between stops in air conditioned places! I'd hate to think what a stadium will be like in the middle of summer!

Simon Moores said...

I think that Panorama was the programme that covered the multiplicity of scandals surrounding FIFA and among them, questions on how Qatar was awarded the bid over so many other more sensibly climatic and geographically significant rivals.

Simon Moores said...

All said though.. the effects of heatstroke are really quite nasty, having been a victim and featured in all my unshaven misery, on an IV drip in a medical tent in the middle of the Sahara Desert in the National Geographic TV programme, 'Running the Distance' which looked at three of the worlds toughest ultra marathons.

Anonymous said...

Having done a route march in the blistering heat of the middle east whilst on National Service, on four shillings a day pay, please let these overpaid footballers have a taste of Qatar. Cannot think of any group of people more deserving.

Anonymous said...

Actually I think moaning pensioners are more deserving!

Anonymous said...

Simon, I see the pensioner hater has popped up on your site. Before you know it he will kick off on one of his favourite topics like the aquifer or TDC corruption.

On your comment, 8:06, I think you will find that many pensioners have already done it, deserving or not, on the no choice basis.