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May 21, 2013

Raul backs winter World Cup

Raul says it would make sense to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in winter given the intense heat in the country during the summer months.

Raul has personal experience of region's climate, as he now plays his club football with Qatari club Al Sadd. He told World Soccer that he expected the 2022 tournament to be a success, but holding in December or January would be best.

"The country is pinning a lot on the success of this enormous project and in nine years' time the world will see a great World Cup," Raul said. "Of course, there is a problem because of the weather. In June and July it is very hot here. That is why it will be good for the World Cup to be held in December or January, when the temperatures are perfect."

While this suggestion has been floated by some - including FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently - clubs are thought to be worried about the disruption that would cause to both domestic and international club competitions. Raul admitted this was an issue, saying futuristic cooling technology inside stadiums could be a solution, but still suggesting summer football was far from ideal in Qatar.

"[The clubs' position] is a big problem," he said. "But if the World Cup is held in the summer the temperature at the stadiums will be about 40 degrees centigrade. We still remember during the 1994 World Cup in Dallas, when Germany and South Korea played in 37 degrees."

Raul, who turns 36 in June, moved to Qatar last summer after two successful seasons in the Bundesliga with Schalke. He revealed he had turned down the chance to join both Juventus and Barcelona in the past.

"Three times I had great offers from Juventus, but I rejected them because I did not want to move to Turin," he said. "Twice there was interest from Barcelona, but as a madridista I would not play there. Never. Madrid is my city. I was born there, my family, my brother and sister, my friends are all in Madrid."

The former Spanish international, who won three Champions Leagues at Madrid, said his ambition now was to win the Asian equivalent with Al Sadd.

"Now I am a league champion [in Qatar]," Raul said. "But in 2011 the team won the Asian Champions League. So I would like to be champion of another continent."

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