In an interview with British press, FIFA’s medical chief has said there is no way Qatar will be losing its right to hold the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard yesterday, Michel D’Hooghe, who also has been a longtime supporter of shifting the games to the winter, said:
“There will be absolutely no re-vote. Some in the English press want that. But it’s not the English press that decide.”
He continued, commenting on the failed World Cup bids of the UK and his own country, Belgium:
“In football you win and you lose. If England feel they have not had a World Cup since 1966, then Belgium has never had the World Cup. England must not complain. They just had the Olympics and organized it fantastically.”
The doctor’s comments come on the heels of an investigation by the Telegraph that renews bribery concerns between FIFA officials and a Qatari involved in the bid process in 2010.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has denied any wrongdoing, and said that it is “unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”
While D’Hooghe denied all corruption allegations, he told the Standard that FIFA did make one error in 2010, when it decided on Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022:
“We decided two World Cups at the same time. Why did we make the mistake? Under pressure of our marketing brothers who said, ‘If we can sell our marketing products for two World Cups, we will have much better financial results.’ I plead guilty like all my colleagues.”
Rescheduling the tournament
A year ago, following a visit to Qatar, D’Hooghe added his voice to a chorus of officials in favor of rescheduling the 2022 World Cup from July and August to later in the year.
The controversial idea has gained support among other senior officials, including Union of European Football Associations (EUFA) president Michel Platini and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valecke.
Qatar has long maintained that it is not averse to changing the schedule of the games, if that is what FIFA wants. But complaints about how shifting the tournament dates would affect players, fan and others sports have also arisen.
FIFA has said it would revisit the idea of moving the games to the winter once the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is finished. According to the Standard, the process will begin in December and a final decision is due next March.