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Saturday, October 16, 2021

FIFA official’s remarks cast doubt on summer 2022 World Cup (updated)



With reporting from Peter Kovessy

(This article has been updated to reflect latest developments.)

No official decision has been made about whether Qatar’s 2022 World Cup will be moved from the summer months, despite remarks made today by a senior FIFA official to a French radio station.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told France Inter Radio that the games would not be held in June or July due to the heat, but instead moved to sometime between November and January.

However, in an official statement sent to Doha News, FIFA said:

“The precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community (FIFA, confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players) as well as FIFA’s commercial partners (Commercial Affiliates and Media Rights Licensees).”

It added that the event is still eight years away, and thus the decision-making process would “not be rushed.” It also reiterated that no decision would be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Valcke’s comments were initially received by many media outlets as an official decision on a long-debated issue, but FIFA indicated that he was simply reiterating his opinion on the matter. However, it looks like the tide is increasingly favoring a winter tournament, due to Qatar’s blistering summer heat.

Earlier today, a spokesman for Qatar’s 2022 Supreme Committee told Doha News that they were not aware a final decision about the games’ schedule had been made.

In a statement sent to Doha News late this afternoon, Q2022 said:

“During the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in October it was agreed that FIFA would enter a period of consultation on the ideal time of year to host the World Cup in Qatar– with a recommendation expected after the World Cup in Brazil. We await the outcome of this consultation period. We will be ready to host the World Cup regardless of the outcome.”

And Sky Sports reported that FIFA Vice President Jim Boye said that he was “shocked” and “surprised” by Valcke’s comments, as the ExCo has not yet made a decision.

“Whether Jerome was expressing a personal opinion, I don’t know, but this has not been discussed by the executive committee.”

Debate postponed

Late last year, FIFA’s Executive Committee discussed whether the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the cooler winter months, but ultimately said it would postpone the decision until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

And in November, FIFA said the games would not be held in January or February, because they would clash with the winter Olympics.

Earlier discussions about the prospect of moving the tournament to cooler months were met with resistance by several European football clubs as well as broadcaster Fox Sports.

Bloomberg News reported last fall that Fox opposed shifting the World Cup from its traditional June start date to the winter out of concern that it would clash with its coverage of National Football League (NFL) games. Fox paid a record amount to carry the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

The English Premier League, among other European football clubs, has also said moving the World Cup would be undesirable because of conflicts with its schedules.

Qatari officials have previously said they were ready to host the tournament in the summer or the winter.


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