Reports that the decision has been made to move the 2022 Football World Cup in Qatar to winter are untrue, verified the Sport’s premier governing body.
Jerome Valcke, The Secretary General of the International Football Federation (FIFA) had stated during an interview earlier that due to the heat of the summer in Qatar, the 2022 World Cup “will not be in June or July”.
“Frankly I think it’ll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest”, Mr. Valcke stated when speaking to the France Info radio station.
He said that the average temperature in Qatar during this time would be a mild 25 degrees and therefore comparable to a “warm spring in Europe”.
The FIFA governing body however clarified later today that Mr. Valcke might have been stating his own personal opinions and that the Executive Committee would only be confirming the final dates after the 2014 World Cup.
Jim Boyce, Britain’s Vice President conveyed his surprise on hearing Valcke’s statement and said the decision had to be taken by the executive committee. Fifa President Sepp Blatter had said earlier that the dates for the tournament would only be confirmed in December 2014.
Although the tournament is traditionally hosted in the months of June-July, FIFA still remains undecided on the case of the World Cup in Qatar. Other football associations in Europe remain divided on their views as well. While some raise fears that the summer heat in Qatar would render conditions ‘unfavourable’ and ‘dangerous’ for players, others cite the chaos that a Winter World Cup would create in the annual European club football calendar and a possible clash with the Africa Cup of Nations (scheduled to be conducted in January 2023).
Frank Lowy, Chief of the Australian Football Federation had said in September last year that the nation, which lost the 2022 bid to Qatar had invested around 42 million dollars in the bidding process and would move for a compensation from FIFA, should the World Cup be shifted to winter.
As the eyes of the World move to the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, we hope FIFA and other Football Associations would be able to reach a consensus regarding such a critical milestone for the future of the sport in the Gulf. Whatever be the decision reached, it is bound to have a lasting impact on all future international tournaments of this scale to be held in the Middle East, including the bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.