Qatar's neighboring countries could host games at the 2022 World Cup, according to FIFA president

Sepp Blatter.

Qatar was designated the 2022 World Cup last week, despite concerns the intense heat poses a serious health risk if the tournament is played in summer.

In an interview with sports daily L'Equipe yesterday, Blatter said Australia's 2022 World Cup bid proposed some matches could be held in New Zealand, and Qatar could have neighboring countries host games. He didn't say which countries.

Blatter reiterated that FIFA was right to award Qatar the World Cup because soccer needs to expand from its traditional strongholds.

"With Qatar, we are opening football to a new world and a new culture," Blatter said. "The Arab world, which has tried several times - with Morocco or Egypt, for example - to host the World Cup, could legitimately lay claim to hosting this."

Qatar also beat out the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Qatar has huge financial means to ensure a state-of-the art cooling system in stadiums and training grounds to combat desert heat. Ruled by the Al Thani family, the tiny Gulf nation has committed $42.9 billion for infrastructure upgrades and $4 billion to build nine stadiums and renovate three others. All the stadiums plan to keep temperatures at about 81 degrees.

Sport Stops

* Evander Holyfield's fight against Sherman "Tank" Williams on Jan. 22 will be held at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

* Madison Square Garden said it has reached an agreement for the option to purchase the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The Forum was home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings until 1999.

* World steeplechase champion Marta Dominguez was among a reported 14 people detained by the Spanish Civil Guard in a new doping investigation. The Civil Guard raided Dominguez's home in Palencia and took a laptop, a briefcase and a box as part of "Operation Galgo." Spanish media reported she was detained along with her trainer, Cesar Perez.

* Spanish swimmer Rafael Munoz is appealing to sport's highest court after two drug-testing violations have him on the verge of being banned. The Court of Arbitration for Sport says the world recordholder in the 50 meters butterfly is challenging a ruling by governing body FINA that he twice failed to notify testing teams of his whereabouts.

* Murray "The Chief" Armstrong, the former NHL player who coached the University of Denver to five NCAA championships, has died in St. Augustine, Fla. He was 94. Armstrong's teams won NCAA championships in 1958, 1960, 1961, 1968 and 1969. He had a 460-215-31 record in 21 seasons from 1956 to 1977.

Philly File

* University of Maryland senior Katie O'Donnell (Wissahickon High) has won the 2011 Honda Sports Award in field hockey as the nation's top collegiate female athlete in the sport. O'Donnell also won the award last season. Led by O'Donnell, Maryland this season won the national championship.