Does poor goal record show air-conditioning is struggling at early World Cup games?

Aside from England’s 6-2 victory over Iran and Spain’s 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica, goals have been scarce at the World Cup in Qatar.

Before the tournament, fears over the oppressive heat in the Middle East were tackled by the organiser’s unprecedented use of air conditioning within the stadiums. While this does seem to be cooling stadia in some instances, the 1pm kick-offs (local time) seem to be suffering amid the early afternoon heat as temperatures regularly hit 30°C, or 86°F.

In total, over a dozen games have seen goalless first halves, including four of seven games in the earliest slot. Since England’s 6-2 win over Iran, the first game with that kick-off time, the six 1pm local time games have seen just eight goals in total while only one game in that time, Saudi Arabia’s shock comeback against Argentina, has seen both teams score.

Each of the last five games in that time slot, of seven in total so far, have largely been slow, sluggish and far from incident-packed affairs in the Qatari midday sun as some teams move training sessions to later in the day to avoid the heat. However, later games at cooler times have reportedly benefitted from the air conditioning, which works by pumping cooler air into grounds from behind the seats or from the base of stands which stays at pitch level due to it being denser than hot air.

Cameroon’s meeting with Serbia on Monday is the final game in Qatar to start at 1pm local time.


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