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Blog: Architect to Superheated Soccer Fans: Chill Out

You've no doubt heard the old business chestnut, "under-promise and over-deliver." Although it's way too soon to say whether the organizers of the 2022 Qatar World Cup will deliver on their promise of hosting the world's biggest sporting event in 120-degree heat without players and spectators dropping dead of heat stroke, it's already clear that they over-promised.

Word has begun to trickle out from last week's International Football Arena conference in Zurich - IFA's tagline, "Football's Global Players," lets you know where they feel they stand with regard to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - that John Barrow of Populous, designer of the Sports City stadium in Doha, dismissed the idea of air-conditioned stadia as "notoriously unsustainable."

"We are doing away with all the air conditioning kit that is going to cost a fortune to run," Barrow told IFA conference delegates. "I think you can be more clever. It is about air movement, moisture in the air and it is about the temperature at the right time of day."

This probably comes as a surprise to event organizers in the United States, Korea Republic, Japan and Australia, whose bids were beaten by a Qatar bid partly based on organizers' assurance that air-conditioning and other high-tech means would be utilized to keep temperatures at manageable levels. Populous even built a small prototype of an air-conditioned stadium in Doha, which the UK's Daily Mail notes "helped to persuade football's governing body FIFA that a sporting event in the Middle East could be feasible."

Barrow told IFA conference delegates the plan now calls for more traditional Arabic methods, such as wind towers that assist ventilation, and he even backed away from the Qatar bid committee's promise that each of the 12 stadiums that will be built to host the World Cup could be regulated at 26°C. "It doesn't need to be 26°C," he said. "Fan expectation needs to be a little more relaxed."

You hear that, fans? Chill out. If you can.

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