Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has welcomed moves by the Qatar FA to hold the 2022 World Cup finals underground to avoid the searing heat of summer.
A delegation of Fifa official were yesterday given a guided tour of the Dahl Al Hamam caves, in Doha City, which are to be excavated to host what would be the world’s first subterranean World Cup.
The Al Hamam sinkhole will be the first of 14 caves in Qatar to be extended to make room for 60,000 all-seater stadiums between a mile and a mile-and-a-half under the desert country.
“With temperatures on land reaching a more than 40 degrees C during the summer, it makes sense to play the games beneath the Earth’s crust where the climate is more temperate,” said a Fifa president Sepp Blatter.
“Underground football presents its own problems, no least the acoustics of holding games in vast caverns but also ensuring there is enough clearance between the turf and the cave roof.
“But when you’re looking to spread football to new areas of the globe, all options must be considered. To hold games in the desert would be far too dangerous. The risk of cave-ins are far less than the risk of players collapsing in the harsh desert sun.”
England bosses have welcome the move after fears the competition may have been switched to the English winter which falls in the middle of the Premier League season.
“Not only does it mean an interruption-free Premier League,” said FA chief Trevor Brooking, “But it will ensure a lot less lost balls when England go out in the penalty shoot-outs. We’re still trying to locate Chris Waddle’s from Italia 90.”
Fears that cost could hold back hosting an underground World Cup have also been allayed.
“Cost is not an issue,” said Mr Blatter. “We made enough from, erm, ‘gratuity payments’ from the Qatar bid team to more than cover any shortfall in the estimated £8billion cave extension project.”
Fifa, however, has acted swiftly to ensure the soaring temperature problems of the Middle East will not be an issue in the search for the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.
Fifa are understood to be in preliminary talks with Inuit people to hold the 2026 games on the Arctic Tundra.