By Mai Akkad
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has weighed in on the debate over whether Qatar should change its 2022 World Cup to the cooler winter months, hinting that a shift could put the games at risk.
In an interview with a Spanish newspaper yesterday, Blatter said:
“Any request for change must come from Qatar. But they have not made this request yet, because they know that if they do so, the other bidders could say ‘ah, there is a change.’ ”
“And they know if they do they risk another of the 2022 candidates bringing a challenge before FIFA, and the vote would have to be repeated.”
For its part, Qatar has repeatedly stated that it is willing to change the games, but only if that is what FIFA and UEFA want.
Last week, FIFA’s medical chief Michel D’Hooghe, voiced support for a shift of the games to winter.
Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, who was in Doha this week for the ICSS Securing Sports Conference, also added his voice:
“At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe…We’ve got FIFA now saying that medical people are saying that they can’t play in Qatar in the summer because of the heat, which is probably right. Over the next few years, things will change and they will come to a compromise.”
Shortly after, the Premiere League issued a statement contradicting its chairman and reiterating its support of a summer games:
“We are opposed to the concept of a winter World Cup for very obvious practical reasons that would impact on all of European domestic football.”
With both Qatar and FIFA saying movement has to come for the other to make a change, this debate likely shows no sign of a resolution anytime soon.
Credit: Photo by The Sport Review