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FIFA now considering November World Cup

ESPN staff
July 25, 2013
Sepp Blatter wants the 2022 World Cup to be held in the winter © Getty Images

A mess of FIFA's making

  • Critics of the Qatar bid - and there were and remain many - predicted from the off that the searing temperatures in the Gulf in June and July would make hosting the 2022 World Cup impossible. FIFA's controversial decision to give the tournament to the state was always going to followed sooner or later but plans to move it to the winter months. That will impact hugely on the traditional football season and throw up a mass of problems, some not even yet apparent.

    Nobody should be surprised FIFA has sold out to Qatar and its untold riches. As one of world sports least appealing governing bodies it will only ever consider itself, its finances and its ruling elite. Clubs, players, and especially fans don't matter, and as for transparency and the good of the game, forget it.But it may have blundered into something even it will struggle with. Chairmen and owners are the real power behind the game, and which of them wants to release their £250,000-a-week superstar mid-season where he runs the risk of injury representing his country and may be tired and/or crocked on his return.

FIFA is now planning to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November rather than January, a source at the governing body told kicker. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has confirmed that he intends to ask for the tournament to be held in the winter as temperatures in the Gulf state can reach 50°C during the summer.

Critics of the decision to award Qatar the tournament flagged from the outset that conditions would make hosting the event at the traditional time impossible and have called for the bidding process to be reviewed.

It was initially expected that the tournament would be changed to January but kicker reports the intention is now to move it to November 2022, with the final set to take place on December 18. That would have a significant effect on domestic football across Europe. The major leagues in the continent all kick off in the summer, with the Russian Premier League changing its schedule to follow the same pattern a year ago, and will face severe disruption as a result of the Qatar tournament.

The planned change had been backed by Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and the German Football League's executive Andreas Rettig.

However, former German Football Association president Theo Zwanziger has warned that a winter World Cup would have a serious effect on European leagues and could also put the "unity of German football" in danger.

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, also spoke out again Thursday against the season change. Scudamore has long been a critic of such a switch, contending it would disrupt Europe's domestic soccer leagues. Now, he said he is more troubled than ever after Blatter's recent reversal.

"Of course one is worried," Scudamore said. "We're not silly. We can see that that's the way the momentum is shifting."

Zwanziger, a member of the FIFA executive committee, told Sport Bild: "If you change the match calendar, it not only affects Bundesliga but also goes all the way down to the minor leagues. The structure of German football is in danger and therefore the unity of German football.

"If the decision [to award the World Cup to Qatar] was wrong back then you have to reverse it and should not load extra burdens on non-participants."

Zwanziger said he had little hope that FIFA would change its plans. "Looking at the executive committee and the interests there, the proposition will get the vote. I am curious to find out what U.S. association president Sunil Gunati, who is new in the committee, will vote for," he said.

The United States had also made a bid for the 2022 World Cup but lost out to Qatar. A vote among the 27 FIFA executive committee members is set for October at the next conference.

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