Qatar heat could change World Cup game format, says engineer

LONDON,  (Reuters) – FIFA could allow matches at the  2022 World Cup finals in Qatar to be played over three 30-minute  periods if temperatures in the stadiums became dangerously high  for the players, a senior stadium engineer told delegates at a  conference yesterday.  
 
Michael Beavon, a director of Arup Associates who helped to  develop the zero-carbon solar technology that will cool the 12  stadiums, told delegates at the Qatar Infrastructure Conference  in London that the air-cooling would maintain a comfortable  temperature of around 24 degrees Celsius in the stadiums.   

“There is a moderate risk of heat injury to the players  between 24C-29C but if you go above that you have high and  extreme risk of injury.   

“The one thing FIFA do say, although it is for guidance, is  if it’s 32C they will stop a match and play three 30-minute  thirds rather than two 45-minute halves.   
“The reason would be to re-hydrate the players before they  could carry on playing. That of course would play havoc with TV  schedules and those kind of things.   

“The commitment from Qatar was to provide conditions in the  moderate band, so that matches would go ahead and be played as  normal. Matches have to be played at an acceptable temperature  and in safety so that FIFA do not intervene.”   
A FIFA spokesman told Reuters: “This possibility has not  been discussed. In any case, this would require a change in the  Laws of the Game, and therefore would have to be analysed and  approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB)  in the first place.”   

The laws of the game state that a match will last for two  periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed by the  referee and both teams, though any changes to the usual  45-minute halves have always been to reduce the playing time for  age-group matches.   
    
  INJURY RISK   
Beavon said that when FIFA’s inspection team evaluating the  World Cup bids for 2022 visited Qatar in September last year,  the external temperature was 44 Celsius – very similar to the  external conditions there will be at the World Cup.   
“During those conditions we had to demonstrate to them that  we could create a comfortable, open-air environment, using zero  carbon technologies in the stadiums.   

“There are no actual requirements for the players, but 70  percent of their comfort issues surround heat and humidity and  we have to keep the heat and humidity at bay.

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