• International football

PL chairman supports winter World Cup

ESPN staff
March 19, 2013
Sir Dave Richards and Jim Boyce believe UEFA president Michel Platini is right to want a winter World Cup © PA Photos

Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards and Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce have both thrown their weight behind the prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022.

The Premier League has so far always strongly opposed a seasonal change for the competition, however, Richards admits a shake-up may be for the best, considering temperatures can often reach more than 45 degrees Celcius in July.

Richards, speaking at the Securing Sport conference in Qatar, said: ''I think they will play [the World Cup] at a time that is proper for football but they will have to speak to the leagues in Europe. They will have to agree proper times when we can start and finish.

''At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe. For us, at this minute, the answer is 'no'. But, if we take a proper view, we have to find a way to have a winter spell where we don't play and I think common sense will prevail.

''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. I think over the next few years, things will change and they will come to a compromise.''

Boyce, Britain's FIFA vice-president from Northern Ireland, shares the view of Richards and feels UEFA president Michel Platini is right in wanting a winter World Cup.

Boyce said: ''I was not part of the process that gave the World Cup to Qatar, but my feeling is that common sense should prevail. The World Cup is the greatest event in football and from a spectator point of view it has to be played at a time of year when people can enjoy it in comfort.

''People I know who live in Qatar say it would be very uncomfortable for the fans. There is also a medical and health concern for both players and spectators and if it is going to be safer to play it in January instead of July then I would be in favour of that.''

He added: ''Many other countries already have a winter break so for them it should not be too problematic. England is probably the main country where there is no winter break but I believe that even there if they are given enough notice then for just one season it should be possible.''

Earlier this month, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said that the 2022 World Cup could be moved to the winter if research proves a summer tournament to be dangerous. Michel D'Hooghe, the chairman of FIFA's medical committee, has also thrown his weight behind a winter World Cup.

FIFA have yet to confirm the international calendar beyond 2018, so there is room for world football's governing body to manoeuvre.

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