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FIFA’s Valcke says Qatar World Cup won’t be played in summer; Organization quickly backtracks

Jan 8, 2014, 7:29 AM EDT

Qatar 2022

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke confirmed what soccer’s international governing body has been saying and we’ve been writing for some time: the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not be played in the summer’s scorching heat thanks to fears for the safety of players and fans.

Then, the company Valcke works for quickly stepped back from his statements.

Valcke used an appearance on a French radio station to double down on FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s statements that the World Cup would not be played in June and July of 2022.

 “To be honest, I think it will be held between 15 November and 15 January at the latest. If you play between 15 November and the end of December that’s the time when the weather conditions are best, when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging 25 degrees. That would be perfect for playing football.”

FIFA jumped back from Valcke’s comments and said they won’t be making a decision on the matter until the end of 2014. FIFA vice president Jim Boyce spoke to Sky Sports:

“This has to be a decision that’s made by the executive committee of FIFA. I’m totally surprised by what I’ve heard this morning. 

“The situation as I’m aware was that at the FIFA executive committee would await a report set up by all the stakeholders involved…and there would be no further discussions before the December executive meeting.

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

BBC.com points out that the Africa Cup of Nations has already been scheduled for January 2023 and that this announcement fits belatedly into Blatter’s plans to make a scheduling decision by Dec. 2014.

The qualification for such a World Cup would obviously change pretty dramatically, and could force the Premier League’s hand on a winter break. It would challenge the sport across many levels and cause a distraction for many non-soccer events, also setting the stage for a remarkably international winter with the 2022 Winter Olympics set for February, with cities in China, Kazakhstan, Poland, Norway, Sweden and Ukraine all expressing interest.

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