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High temperatures: Cool air blows towards fans via large cooling nozzles inside World Cup stadiums

  Qatar's football stadiums' AC technology serves as a testbed for an innovative cooling method AP

Frosty air blew over the more than 67,000 fans who packed Al Bayt Stadium on the breezy opening night of the World Cup in the Qatari coastal city of Al Khor.

The chilly night, made even cooler by the air-conditioned outdoor stadium, made some fans wish they had dressed warmer.

"It's actually too cold," said Faisal Rasheed, a 40-year-old Qatar fan who came to see the hosts take on Ecuador in seven acts after the opening ceremony. Wearing a maroon sweatshirt in the color of Qatar's national flag and uniform, Rasheed said the air conditioning was working "well" but wondered if it was necessary on the windy desert night.

Qatar lost the game 2-0 on a night when the outside temperature reached 23 degrees Celsius (74 degrees Fahrenheit).

The World Cup is being held in the winter months instead of the traditional June-July window after organizers postponed it in 2015, five years after Qatar won hosting rights over concerns about how fans and players would fare in the country's scorching summer heat.Qatar has spent billions building seven air-conditioned, open-air World Cup stadiums. Organizers have been trumpeting the technology behind the cooling systems in the long run-up to the tournament, repeatedly announcing that temperatures in the stands and on the pitch would hover around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) regardless of the outside conditions.

The 974 Stadium in Doha is the only venue that is not refrigerated but only hosts night games.

The tented Bedouin Al Bayt Stadium features a chilling station that sends chilled water to multiple air treatment units inside the venue. Some of the water used in the cooling process is recycled wastewater, said stadium engineer Saud Ghani. Mario Sanchez, a 33-year-old US fan, said he traveled from Chicago to Qatar to watch 28 of the tournament's 64 games.

"It actually feels pretty cold tonight," Sanchez said, "but that's because it's really windy."

He said the real test of the technology is likely to take place on Monday during the first day's game between England and Iran at 4pm local time.

"We'll see how that goes," Sanchez said.

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