(WFI) FIFA president Sepp Blatter has repeated his assertion that the Qatar 2022 World Cup should be switched from summer to winter to avoid the Gulf state’s sizzling desert heat.
Blatter said he would be “very much surprised” if the FIFA Executive Committee did not decide to rubberstamp the controversial change at its Oct. 3-4 meeting in Zurich.
Qatar bid for a summer World Cup, promising to air-condition host stadia and fan areas to protect players and visitors from the searing heat, which can reach 50 degrees Celsius. But the campaign to move it to the winter, led by influential figures including UEFA chief Michel Platini and backed by FIFA’s top medical official, has forced FIFA to reconsider when it should be staged.
Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore and other continental league chiefs have said the move would spark “chaos” in Europe’s leagues. They would have to be reorganized for two or three seasons.
Blatter promised to involve leagues, clubs, national associations and players in talks to decide which month in winter Qatar should stage the World Cup.
November is seen as the most likely start date, as FIFA will not clash with the January-February hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“What will be the ongoing situation with such a decision, we have to look on the international calendar,” Blatter was quoted by the Associated Press.
“We have to look if and how it is possible, when we don’t play in summer, when is the best time to play in winter?”
UEFA’s Executive Committee is expected to discuss the possible impact of the 2022 World Cup switching to winter at its September meeting in Croatia.
In other FIFA news, Blatter said Russia will likely clarify its anti-gay law next week.
Blatter has asked the 2018 World Cup host for clarifications about how the law will impact players and visitors to the tournament. With the law which prohibits promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” casting a shadow over the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, IOC president Rogge received similar clarifications last week.
“The office of Mr. Putin has promised to me that they will send all these documents in the first days of September,” Blatter told the AP. “And I have also asked the Swiss embassy to look and to help us to obtain the correct versions of that.”
Blatter said he plans to raise the issue at the FIFA ExCo meeting in October. Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who also heads the 2018 World Cup committee, is an ExCo member.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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