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Blatter expects FIFA executive committee to approve winter 2022 World Cup

Aug 25, 2013, 12:20 PM EDT

FIFA President Blatter attends a news conference at the Home of FIFA in Zurich

In a move that will cause a predictable amount of ire, FIFA’s executive committee is expected to approve a schedule shift for the 2022 World Cup, one that will allow the tournament to be played in the winter and avoid the Qatari summer. According to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the decision is expected to come when the ExCo meets in early October (3rd and 4th), and while there have been no official dates set for an event that’s still nine years away, the governing body’s board are expected to pave the way for an unprecedented move.

There are no FIFA statures that state when, exactly, the quadrennial event must take place, but World Cups typically take place in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months – when the European soccer season is not in session. But with the 2022 final awarded to Qatar, where the average July temperature in Doha is 106 degrees Fahrenheit, many have called for a shift to the Middle East winter.

Though Qatar’s initial bid for the 2022 event included plans for air-conditioned stadia, hosting a World Cup in July may be deemed impossible in the Middle East, according to Blatter. From the AP’s Sunday report:

“Those that have taken the decision at the time, they knew there is problems with the heat. They knew it, because it was in the (technical) report,” Blatter said. “It was wrong to say, `Now we have to play in summer,’ because in summer you cannot play there.”

“Therefore the ExCo now shall take the decision – and they will take it – that in summer you can’t play in Qatar.”

That’s why Blatter’s confident the committee will approve the “move”:

“I would be very much surprised, more than surprised, if the ExCo will not accept the principle you cannot play in summer in Qatar,” Blatter said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual charity football tournament in his home village. “What will be following, this would be then decided later.”

Is it really impossible to play a World Cup in a Qatar summer, given the ability to air condition a venue? Probably not, but that’s not the point. The language we’re seeing from Blatter reflects the momentum of the debate – a quality that makes a shift inevitable.

Clearly, UEFA is not going to like this. I don’t mean UEFA as in the actual governing body (Michel Platini has favored this move). I mean UEFA as the collection of clubs that make up that confederation’s leagues. Clearly, leagues like England’s, Spain’s, Germany’s and Italy’s are big businesses – powerful entities that won’t take kindly to having to change their habits. For the most part, these leagues play soccer in winter, and no matter where on the calendar you plop the tournament, people will complain. Expect some clubs (perhaps even whole leagues) to plot ways to with get around or outright fight this.

But again, it’s a little ludicrous that a World Cup has to take place at a set point in the year, particularly one that would preclude a lot of the world’s potentially soccer-loving population from hosting the event. If the World Cup wants to go to China or India in 20 (or 40) years from now, should it be beholden to Euro-centric tradition that unintentionally precludes growing the sport? How about North Africa, some day? Or do we just say “you’re not allowed this tournament, ever.” For some people, that’s the answer.

Whether Qatar is the location for which we want to create exceptions is another debate, but that boat’s also sailed. Qatar is hosting the World Cup. At this point, everybody’s chief concern should be putting on the best event possible.

With nine years to prepare, surely leagues as resourceful and powerful as Europe’s can find some way to negotiate this challenge. And if they can’t, they’re not nearly as resourceful and powerful as we think they are.

FIFA seems set to adjust their international calendar for 2022. Europe may be told to deal with it.

  1. quizguy66 - Aug 25, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Qatar bid on a World Cup for the Summer of 2022.
    FIFA, against all reason, voted in favor of it.
    FIFA should be made to live with the stupidity of that action.

    The Cup should not be moved to winter.


    • mkgcle - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      FIFA wouldn’t be the only ones “living with” the consequences of the ridiculous decision to give Qatar the tournament – so would every player who had to suffer by playing through that heat. I’m no engineer, but I have a hard time believing that Qatar’s fancy “air-conditioned” stadia would really be enough to A) protect their safety, or B) allow them to play at the high level the World Cup deserves. In an ideal world, I would move the tournament to another country – since I doubt that’s feasible at this point, I think moving it to winter represents the least-terrible option. I agree with Richard – the UEFA leagues can moan and groan all they want, but they’ve got 9 years to figure out a work-around so it shouldn’t be the end of the world.

  2. dfstell - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I guess my issue is with Qatar in general. I mean, it isn’t like Qatar is a country that has a rich soccer tradition and “deserves” to host the WC (like England, Germany, Italy, Brazil, etc.) OR a huge economic powerhouse where it makes sense to hold the WC there to enhance exposure for future economic reasons (like the US in 1994, or China/India/Indonesia now).

    I mean….this is Qatar with a population of 1.9MM. That’s like screwing up all of global soccer to hold the WC in Nebraska.

  3. konmtu - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    There are so many more problems with Qatar hosting the World Cup than just the heat. (BTW, the heat for the players wouldn’t be as big an issue as it would be for the festivities that surround the WC. I do believe they could air condition the stadia satisfactorily for gameplay.)
    It is a country ruled by Muslims which could cause all sorts of issues for people whose/lifestyles run counter to what is acceptable to Islam. Also, the underhanded way that the WC was/awarded to/Qatar makes all of the discussion of changing the time of year even less palatable.
    And really, how does Qatar hosting the WC really grow the sport or help boost it commercially?

  4. fernandopurres - Aug 25, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    I hope the Premier League and the other leagues boycott. Pressure their players not to participate.

    FIFA really screwed up awarding the WC to Qatar and the domestic leagues should not pay the price. Blatter is a clown and international football needs to be taken down a peg. From exhausting star players in meaningless friendlies just to line their own pockets to the general corruptness of FIFA.

    Not that the domestic game is by all means perfect but FIFA is the most corrupt sporting organization on the planet.

    I would be happy to boycott every single World Cup from here on out if I thought it would make a difference.

  5. talgrath - Aug 25, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    How long until they realize this just isn’t going to work period? UAE doesn’t take kindly to the sort of debauchery that frequently come with a World Cup, if fans are getting arrested left and right you might very well see significant friction. Or is UAE going to turn a blind eye to the drunks, the parties and the nudity?

  6. rslfan9 - Aug 25, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    On the surface, this looks great for MLS. All players will be fresh and wont miss any games. But, this is suicide for American soccer. Think about this, why doesn’t the MLS play soccer in the winter? Football. It will be the same issue here. I cannot see any big broadcast company (ESPN/ABC, NBC, Fox, CBS) choosing soccer over football (which pays a ton more than the world cup) . We are talking no TV coverage in the USA. Does Fifa really want to cut out the world’s largest market? They did cheat us of a world cup, but this is a lot of money they would be missing out on. We are talking a total nightmare for American Soccer fans.

    • tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 25, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      That’s a bit extreme. Sundays are the only days where games would conflict and Fox (who owns the rights for that world cup) has a number of other channels to show the games on besides the main network.

      • rslfan9 - Aug 25, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        Depending on the time they decide to do this Sunday-NFL, Monday- Monday Night Football, Thursday-Saturday – college football. Now even if the World Cup is shown on TV the viewership will he significantly lower than previous world cups that had no competition. Also what if they decide to do the world cup during bowl games? Plus a Sunday final. Disaster for USA.

      • tarotsujimoto74 - Aug 25, 2013 at 6:51 PM

        Primetime games won’t be an issue because of the time difference.

  7. vfutebol - Aug 25, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    I also agree that awarding the WC to Qatar was a terrible decision, but perhaps was the only way to shut a few people up (not mentioning names) in order to appear “fair”. However, I feel that the game must go on no matter what the weather conditions, (except lightening). Players will condition themselves for such temperatures as they always do. You may recall the WC ’94 in USA where the temperature in some cities reached the mid-90’s with high humidity. Playing in winter not only disrupts the European season but also a very old tradition. Many athletes such as Marathon runners, Triathletes, Olympic Athletes travel to parts of the world where the weather conditions are extreme in order to train and adapt their bodies so why not soccer players. I mean, Winter Olympic venues don’t chance just because the temperature gets colder from one day to the next – winter athletes still compete no mater what the temperature is and they don’t get compensated as soccer players do.

  8. kingkong90002013 - Aug 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    This is the ugliest scandal upright in the public. While FIFA and most decent soccer fans are against match-fixing, this UEFA head wittingly chose a very bad location because of some of his non-monetary-direct reasons, promising in advance that he would change from summer to winter should Qatar won. Even non-monetary-direct, this is a cheat obviously. Why is he so shameless?

  9. mikeevergreen - Aug 26, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    The guy who backed Qatar the hardest (Bin Hamman) is banned for life for corruption, why isn’t Bladder, or US-hater Julio Grondona. I say ban Bladder for life, and send this cup to the United States.

  10. toggablogga - Aug 31, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    The decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar without first considering the climate was laughable. How can an organisation like FIFA fail to see the potential problems? I’m all for Football being showcased for every culture and the idea of a middle eastern World Cup is fantastic, but FIFA have really made a mess of this.

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