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New concerns over Qatar's ability to host 2022 World Cup

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A Fifa chief has raised fresh doubts about the likelihood of the 2022 World Cup taking place in Qatar as planned - calling into question the need for tournament stadia designed by British architects

Theo Zwanziger, an executive committee (Exco) member of the sport’s global governing body, told German magazine Sport Bild that issues connected to Qatar’s intense summer heat would stop the tournament going ahead as planned, the Guardian reported.

Zaha Hadid has been commissioned to design a 40,000 seater stadium at Al-Wakrah for the tournament, while Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Mossessian & Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects are all vying for the job to mastermind an 80,000-seat capacity stadium in Lusail.

Qatar has gone to great lengths to demonstrate the potential for heat supression systems to provide comfortable environments for both players and spectators in temperatures that often exceed 44C in summer - including the construction of a 500-seat five-a-side demonstration venue designed by Arup Associates.

However, Zwanziger said he was not convinced that the safety issues related to Qatar’s climate in June and July had been properly addressed.

‘I personally think that in the end the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar,’ he said.

‘They may be able to cool the stadiums, but a World Cup does not take place only there.

‘Fans from around the world will be coming and travelling in this heat and the first life-threatening case will trigger an investigation by a state prosecutor. That is not something that Fifa Exco members want to answer for.’

Shortly after becoming Football Association chairman last year, Greg Dyke raised his own doubts about the viability of hosting a summer World Cup in Qatar, suggesting the tournament be moved to a cooler time of the year.

The prospect is an unpopular one with football clubs, because of the disruption to domestic-football-season scheduling a two-month break would cause.

Previous story (29.05.14)

Foster and Chippo on shortlist for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadium

Four British practices have been shortlisted in the competition to design the centrepiece stadium for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Mossessian & Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects are all vying for the job to mastermind the 80,000-seat capacity stadium in Lusail.

An earlier tender process for the flagship arena in Doha, which will host the World Cup final in eight years’ time, was ditched in March, having rumbled on for almost 12 months. According to reports in AJ sister publication MEED, none of the proposals tendered then were thought to accurately ‘reflect modern Qatari design and culture’.

As a result the contest organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, began another search. The shortlisted architects were asked to attend workshops with the committee ‘to ensure the fresh design met expectations’. The proposals were submitted last week.

AJ100 chart-topper Foster + Partners has already worked on a scheme for the so-called Lusail Iconic Stadium, having drawn up a concept for the arena as part of Qatar’s successful World Cup bid in late 2010.

Mossessian & Partners has also been active in the region, playing a major part in the Heart of Doha (now Mushereib) mixed-use scheme, which won an Architectural Review Future Projects award for combining ‘architectural excellence’ with both environmental and social context.

Mangera Yvars has work in Doha, too, having designed among other things the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, which is nearing completion.

Doha had initially planned to spend $4 billion on building nine new stadiums, as well as overhauling the existing Al-Rayyan, Al-Gharafa and Khalifa arenas.

However, Qatar’s 2022 organising committee recently announced it was considering reducing the number of proposed host stadiums to ‘an amount that better reflected the size of the country’. Among those schemes still likely to go ahead is the Al-Wakrah stadium, designed by Zaha Hadid.

None of the practices involved in the new Lusail contest were available to comment.

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