Qatar weather: Brazil's Antony says stadium air-con making players ill

Antony - Qatar weather: Brazil's Antony says stadium air-con making players ill - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Antony - Qatar weather: Brazil's Antony says stadium air-con making players ill - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Antony, the Manchester United and Brazil forward, says the air conditioning that World Cup organisers installed in Qatar stadiums is making players ill.

Grounds, training venues and hotels all have cooling air ducts installed due to temperatures soaring beyond 30C even though it is winter in Doha.

However, Antony, who was one of several Brazilians to miss training earlier this week ahead of their Group G win against Switzerland, says it has given them sore throats.

Antony was used as a second-half substitute in the Switzerland game and the 2-0 victory against Serbia, but admits he was feeling rough by the second match.

"It was a bit difficult," Antony, who completed a £82m move from Ajax last summer, told Brazilian reporters. "I ended up having a bad feeling there for a few days that complicated me a bit.

"I’m recovering well now and getting back to 100 per cent. It was more of a sickness, a feeling in the throat. It was the air conditioning."

He added "It wasn’t just me, other players also had a cough and a bad throat. It’s very difficult for me to get sick, but I’m happy to be an important part of the team. Whenever you need Antony, I’m available."

Average temperatures in Qatar in November and December range from a daytime high of 29C to a night-time low of 19C.

But despite most matches being significantly lower than some of the conditions at USA 94, eight stadiums have solar powered air-conditioning this time. In some matches, the system has been switched off.

England were very leggy against the US and it was thought the air-con had been off at least an hour before kick off.

Brazil’s victory over Switzerland ensured Tite’s side progressed to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a group game to spare.

How hot is it in Qatar generally?

Temperatures were above the seasonal average ahead of the World Cup, regularly reaching more than 30C. The wall-to-wall sunshine has continued since the tournament started but the heat has eased off a little, trending in the late 20s. The sun does set before 5pm and so the heat has been mitigated for later matches. Temperatures are still a huge difference from the 40C plus that are normal during the summer months when a World Cup is typically held.

Who invented the stadium air-conditioning?

Nicknamed Dr Cool, the air-conditioning technology inside the eight stadiums was invented by a man called Dr Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani. He is a Sudanese graduate of mechanical thermal fluids from Nottingham University and a former lecturer at universities in Warwick, Sheffield and Manchester. He told The Telegraph that the final test would be “a full stadium of 80,000 in Lusail” but, after numerous matches in other tournaments when the technology has worked perfectly, he is confident that there will be no hitch. “The first time is where you have always doubt. What if Mr Newton was not correct? But, at the Arab Cup, we had 67,000 people and it was 100% functioning.”

How does it work?

Air is pumped out from vents all around the stadium and a bubble of pressure is created inside the stadium bowl. “We maintain a bubble - and make sure it will not bust - by keeping the pressure different from outside,” explained Dr Saud. “The technology also cools the air and purifies it from pollen dust, human skin, human hair, and then gives it back. Up to 50 degrees I can provide between 24 and 18. We are not just cooling the air, we're cleaning it. We're purifying the air for spectators. People who have allergies won't have problems inside our stadiums. We have the cleanest and purest air there is." The stadium will be cooled for players as well as fans and it is even possible to provide different temperatures in different parts of the stadium.

Will all eight World Cup stadiums have the air-conditioning?

Yes, the systems will operate at all World Cup venues, but organisers are planning to take a match-by-match view on how it is used. They want conditions to remain as natural as possible but with no matches played above a temperature of 24C. Average yearly temperatures in Qatar during November and December are between 25C and 15C but day-time temperatures of up to 30C were experienced during the first week of the tournament.

How will it be used in the future?

The technology has not been patented and Dr Saud also believes that the air-conditioning can answer new challenges, from the 2026 World Cup in the heat of Mexico, the United States and Canada to rather loftier global problems. “The next challenge is agriculture,” he says. “We have the infrastructure to eliminate hunger.” The cost of the technology has not been disclosed and there has been debate over the environmental impact. It has been estimated by the national electricity company Kahramaa that 60 to 70% of the electricity produced in Qatar is devoted to air-conditioning and, while the stadiums only account for a tiny proportion, there are questions over whether directing such resource to eight venues is justifiable. The organisers have said that the air conditioning will account for only 20% of the stadiums annual electricity consumption. "The stadiums will be able to be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round," said Mr Saud.