A task force set up by FIFA to determine the dates for the 2022 World Cup has met for the first time this week, officially reopening discussion on moving the tournament to Qatar’s cooler winter months.
The task force, which is led by Executive Committee member Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, convened yesterday at FIFA’s headquarters in Geneva.
It confirmed that two winter time periods – in January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 – were under consideration, as well as the original summer plan of holding the tournament in June and July.
The mention of a January/February time slot came as a surprise to many, after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced in December last year that the idea had been ruled out over concerns that it would clash with the winter Olympics, which are traditionally held at the same time.
At the time, Blatter said in a statement:
“We will not play the World Cup in January and February. It would be totally disrespectful to the Olympic family and organisation when they have the Winter Olympic Games in January and February.
We have also consulted our economic and media partners. So many different partners are with FIFA and the Olympic Games so we can not have the partners in two competitions at the same time.”
The host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics is expected to be announced next July. On the shortlist are Beijing, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Oslo.
While Qatar had bid for and was awarded hosting rights to the FIFA 2022 World Cup on the grounds that the event be held in the summer, many experts have expressed concerns about the extreme temperatures and humidity that players, officials and fans would have to face if matches were held during June/July.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said several times that it was an “error” to hold the Qatar World Cup in the summer, after FIFA’s own technical report recommended against it.
In a statement this week, Al Khalifa said:
“The options of January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 were put forward as alternatives to June/July 2022, and initial feedback received.”
However, it appears that Blatter has been in contact with the IOC and reassured them that should January/February be the favored time, FIFA will ensure the two international events don’t clash.
According to Reuters, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said:
“It is in the interest of both organisations (FIFA and the IOC) that there is no clash between our calendars. We have received assurances from President Blatter that this will not be the case.”
Representatives from European clubs, leagues and the world players’ union FIFPro as well as national association representatives that sit on the task force have been asked to give their detailed feedback on all the proposed dates, and to highlight relevant competitions and activities that take place during the relevant time slot.
The next committee meeting is expected to take place in November, with a further one scheduled for February 2015, when it is hoped a final decision on the date will be made.
The European clubs and leagues in particular have for some time made public their opposition to moving the World Cup to the winter, which would mean introducing an eight-week break at the height of the football season.
The European Professional Football Leagues, which represents 844 clubs in 22 countries, issued a statement earlier this year saying that shifting the dates would have an adverse effect on timetables for domestic matches, and would harm leagues’ business interests.
But Blatter dismissed the idea of any teams boycotting the games due to a different timetable. He was quoted as saying:
“In the rotation of the World Cup it was obvious that one day we should give the World Cup also to the Arabic world. It was a democratic decision taken by secret ballot and this was their decision. Now we have to make the best of it in order to show that also a small country can host the World Cup. But it is a challenge.”
Some media organizations have also been against a shift in the time of year. American broadcaster Fox – which paid a record amount for the broadcasting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – has voiced its opposition out of concern that a winter World Cup would clash with its coverage of National Football League games.
While the summer dates are still on the table for the task force to consider, a pre-recorded interview was broadcast at the Soccerex convention in Manchester yesterday in which Blatter said that he is only considering winter options.
Reuters reports the FIFA official as saying:
“We have already said we cannot play in summer in this heat in Qatar. We have to play in winter. Now we are making this consultation but it is the first official one, so far.”
Fifa’s vice-president Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, who is also president of the West Asian Football Federation, backed Blatter’s latest statement, saying moving the dates “makes sense.”
Qatar’s world cup organizing body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, has maintained it is still preparing for a summer tournament, and will use environmentally-friendly cooling technology in its stadiums and surrounding venues to ensure a comfortable atmosphere.
BeIN sports commentator Jason McAteer last week backed Qatar’s technological efforts, saying: “As soon as Qatar won the bid, the reaction was ‘it’s too hot.’ When you look at the technology and see how it’s going to benefit the players and the fans, it’s amazing.”
Meanwhile, FIFA confirmed at the end of last week that it had been handed the long-awaited report by ethics investigator Michael Garcia and his team of lawyers.
The 350-page dossier examines claims of corruption and bribery over the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and makes recommendations for action.
The report, delayed since July, will now be examined by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert, who can impose sanctions – although it is not clear if he has the power to strip Qatar of hosting rights if this is what the report recommends.
Its getting a bit boring now, Qatar is getting all the flack when it should be FIFA in the dock. Septic Bladder is going to get another term when the majority of the football world is against him, except his cronies in FIFA who want the pay checks to keep coming. You only had to watch him getting booed in Brazil everytime his face came up on a screen in a stadium to know the lack of respect people have for this dispicable man who tarnishes the world of football.
FIFA is just a money making machine with no principals, if it had any interest in ethics, football or humanity it would be warning Russia they could lose the hosting right for invading and carving up another soverign country. No chance, just pass the champagne and the bag with the money in it….
Too bad these officials aren’t meeting in an open-air Doha stadium right now instead of Geneva. Then they’d get an idea of what the summer heat is like and why selling the World Cup to Qatar was a foolish decision.
Oh they know alright. I think they got so caught up in dividing the cash that they didn’t think about how obvious it was going to look that the WC had been bought and sold. And the Qataris…they just don’t care how it’s going to look. Shameless, both of them.
Of course the Qatari’s care how it looks, it ultimately is a relection of them, however, a few bad apples do not poison the orchard, so I don’t think calling a country shameless is very fair. The root cause of the problem is FIFA and it’s voting process, along with it’s cronyism of course. The weather is a side issue and can be managed, as there are solutions and we all know it. No point in going over well worn arguments on the why and why not.
You think Bin Hammam really cared about what he was doing, and how it reflected back on his country? I don’t.
No way did he, or many or his compatriots, care. The mantra of “Glory at any cost” is fitting.
Funny how times have changed. Remember back in 2010….
“Qatar 2022 bid chairman, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani tells INSIDER that AFC President and FIFA Ex-co member Mohamed Bin Hammam is the bid’s “biggest asset” and that he has been a crucial mentor for his team.”
“He’s always been advising us and always been by our side. He’s definitely our biggest asset in the bid.”
Now the 2022 team can’t do enough to distance themselves from him and his corruption.
But taking advantage of that is just as damning.
Yes it was a foolish FIFA decision… but a winter world cup here is possible, however that was not the basis of the bidding process. So moving the dates, which is the only sane decision to permit Qatar and other climate afflicted countries to participate, moves the goalposts and 2022 should be re-bid accordingly. The sooner FIFA wakes up and actions this the better it will be for football
I fear a summer world cup here will fall short on all expectations and be bad for the image of Qatar all round, with fans staying away, staying in Dubai, and pictures of part filled stadia, and news of fan problems away from the matches dominating the headlines. Nobody wants Qatar 2022 (summer) to go down as a failed world cup surely ?
Yes it is getting boring. The headlines get repeated and the comments get repeated and Blatter just keeps rolling the WC2022 juggernaut on it’s corrupt course with investigations and reports to fool people into the idea that there is some possible decision other than WC2022 taking place in Qatar. Blatter, the man who stole football.
Sounds like hot air upon hot air.Have to chuckle at Fox,worried about WC clashing with American Football for tv rights and monies paid.Sort of like thinking Megadeath fans will be taken away by a Philamonic Orchestra concert.
i think you would be surprised how many fans of Megadeath, Metalica et al are fans of classical music as well…
The good news is that Fox has always been very generous in its support of the Middle East, and has used it considerable media power to promote tolerance and respect towards the Arab world.
If, on the other hand, Fox, and Fox News, was a biased news organisation that targets itself squarely at xenophobic right wing American bigots who hate all things foreign and anyone not Christian, then Qatar would have something to worry about.
I concur.Sports is big business,but I do not like to see a Middle Eastern WC opportunity being put at risk by the different interests.FB is gaining ground in NA for sure,somehow I feel American Football fans may not be too distracted by WC coverage,as long as it neither conflict with NASCAR.Remember,Fox are the people who brought us the red puck with slashing tail in Hockey thinking that would help attract fans who had trouble following the play.Diehard hockey fans knew that was foolish.
I smell lawsuits to follow.
Its crazy how a bunch of guys at FIFA can hold the beautiful game of football to ransom by forcing their own decisions on others and hanging on to their chairs forever and not allowing fresh ideas and new persons to takeover. How long will the lovers of this game have to put up with such corrupt and clueless officials who are actually giving a bad name to Football
Blatter has stolen football.
No he and his cronies gang raped it, again and again.