FIFA executive board member Theo Zwanziger believes that Qatar will be stripped of its right to host the 2022 World Cup finals, with a spokesperson for world football's governing body moving to insist that this is simply the German's "personal opinion."
Zwanziger cited the health risks for players and fans in the extreme heat of the Gulf state as the main reason behind his belief that the tournament in eight years' time will ultimately be staged elsewhere.
"Personally, I believe that the 2022 World Cup will not take place in Qatar in the end," he told Sport Bild. "The doctors say -- and I have demanded to have this registered in the records -- that they can't be held responsible for a summer World Cup held in those conditions," he said.
While the tournament organisers insist that stadiums, training facilities and fan zones will be kept cool using air conditioning technology which is still in development, concerns remain over supporters from across the globe travelling around the small Middle Eastern nation would still suffer in the desert conditions for the rest of the time.
"The World Cup not only takes place in the stadiums," Zwanziger said. "Fans from all over the world will be out in the heat. The first life-threatening incident would immediately lead to public prosecution. And no one in the FIFA executive would want to answer for that."
In reaction to Zwanziger's claims, a FIFA spokesperson was quoted as saying by Suddeutsche Zeitung: "As highlighted by Mr. Zwanziger, this is his personal opinion."
However, a winter World Cup is not completely off the table yet, despite tough opposition from the major European clubs, who fear the changes to their respective domestic calendars.
Former German FA (DFB) president Zwanziger, 69, has been a member of the FIFA executive since 2011, when he took compatriot Franz Beckenbauer's seat. He last made the headlines when he clashed with the current DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, criticising him for his "hypocritical salary."
The DFB urged him to resign as a FIFA executive board member, but Zwanziger refused to do so, adding: "The final word is not spoken yet."