Teams contesting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will need a month to prepare for the country’s sweltering heat, according to a report by a British university published on Thursday.
The study by the University of Bedfordshire recommends that teams arrive in Qatar at least four weeks in advance of the tournament, which is currently scheduled to take place amid temperatures that could reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit).
“Physical performance and decision-making will be impaired in hot conditions,” said Professor Brewer from the university’s sports science department.
“The research we have done in our environmental chamber has involved simulating the demands of football matches in environments that come close to replicating conditions in Qatar.
“The results are unsurprising; but we’ve also found that players’ bodies could adapt to the extreme conditions if the squad arrives in Qatar early enough.”
Professor Brewer was the former Head of Sports Science at the Football Association and he was also a member of England’s back-room staff at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
He says that in order for England to prosper at the Qatar tournament, the entire domestic footballing calendar would have to be rejigged.
“In order for this to happen, the FA would need to look at the fixture calendar, in conjunction with the Premier League, to ensure players can finish the domestic season in very good time,” he said.
“England then need to meet up as a team and travel to Qatar at least four weeks in advance to acclimatise to the temperature and play some preparation games.”
Professor Brewer also believes that England would benefit from adopting a slower, more patient style of play, similar to that of current world and European champions Spain.
“The high-tempo game we see in the Premier League on a regular basis may not be the type of football that can be sustained for 90 minutes or extra-time and penalties in a World Cup,” he added.
“If you like to see a style of play that sees the ball being passed around at a lower tempo, then I think that’s what we’ll see in Qatar.
“England will need to modify their tactics as countries used to playing at a low tempo in hot conditions will hold an advantage.”
Although the 2022 World Cup is currently due to take place during Qatar’s summer months, world governing body FIFA has expressed a desire for the tournament to be moved to a different time of the year when temperatures are cooler.
However, Europe’s major leagues, including the Premier League, are against the idea of a World Cup taking place during the European winter due to the disruption to their calendars that it would create.
FIFA’s Executive Committee will examine proposals to change the date of the tournament when it convenes in Zurich in early October.