Will Air Conditioning in Qatar’s World Cup Stadiums Hold Up Against the Heat?

qatar2022When the small Middle Eastern nation of Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, concerns abounded due to its sweltering desert climate, which would make it nearly impossible for a soccer game to take place.

At the time, the country’s representatives claimed its superior air conditioning technology would keep its stadiums, training fields and fan zones at a comfortable, safe temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, or about 73 degrees Fahrenheit.

Qatar even built a 500-seat prototype stadium that would show FIFA officials how well the cooling systems would work. In this model, solar panels used the sun’s energy to power an absorption chiller, which would then circulate cool air throughout the building.

The concept was doable, Sport Techie reported in a Feb. 25 article, if a little expensive and energy-inefficient.

Yet ultimately, FIFA wasn’t fully convinced, agreeing that Qatar’s summer temperatures posed too much a threat to the health of both players and fans. Additionally, the cooling systems didn’t make sense in terms of long-term sustainability, and their ability to meet FIFA’s environmental requirements was always questionable at best. As a result, a FIFA task force now recommends the 2022 World Cup be held during the winter months of November and December.

Despite the fact that these cooling systems wouldn’t be needed in a winter World Cup, the event’s hosts say they plan to continue their development and implementation as planned, according to the BBC.

“Whenever the World Cup is hosted, we’re still moving ahead with the cooling technology for the legacy that it offers,” Hassan Al Thawadi, head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup organizing committee, said.

Despite this insistence on going ahead with the cooling technology, it’s unclear how this will unfold. Nor is this the end of the controversies that continue to surround the Qatar World Cup.