(WFI) The furore over a summer 2022 World Cup in Qatar shows no sign of abating after the Football Association’s new chairman Greg Dyke called for the tournament to be moved to winter.
But in the wake of his comments on Friday, the European Professional Football Leagues has written a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter protesting any shift from the traditional summer World Cup window, according to a report in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.
“Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans,” Dyke told the BBC. “My position, and I suspect the FA’s position, will be: ‘You can’t play it in the summer.'”
He added: “FIFA have therefore got two choices. They can move it either time-wise or to another location. I suspect either will end up in some sort of litigation. But then someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded.”
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement: “It was the right decision to award the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in 2022.
“Football is the most popular sport in the Middle East and the people of our region deserve the opportunity to have history made in their part of the world. We are committed to delivering on the promises we made in our successful bid.
“We are ready to host in summer or winter. We have always maintained that this issue requires the agreement of the international football community.
“A decision to alter the dates of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would not affect our infrastructure planning. The development of environmentally friendly cooling technologies is an important legacy issue for our nation, region and in countries with similar climates.”
Dyke’s volley of criticism joins a chorus of voices who have blasted FIFA for awarding hosting rights to Qatar where summer temperatures can reach 50 degrees Celsius.
Last month, FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger called the selection a “blatant mistake” and asserted that staging a winter World Cup would create numerous further problems for the European leagues.
In July, another FIFA ExCo member, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, also criticised the 2022 World Cup bidding process that led to Qatar securing hosting rights over the USA, Australia, Japan and Korea.
And Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore said the 2022 World Cup should be relocated if it could not be held in summer, claiming a move to winter would spark global “chaos” in the world football calendar.
After initially welcoming Qatar’s plan to stage the tournament in air-conditioned stadia, according to the Qatar bid book plan, Blatter has since revised his opinion and now believes it will be too dangerous for players and fans to hold the competition in the sizzling Gulf summer heat. The FIFA ExCo will discuss the matter at its Oct. 3-4 meeting, and is expected to make a decision on moving the World Cup
Despite a FIFA inspection team, led by Harold Mayne-Nicholls declaring Qatar “high risk” after a site visit in September 2010, putting the Australia, Japan, Korea and the USA above the Gulf state, members of the ExCo voted for the desert nation on Dec. 2 that year.
“High-Risk” Qatar Bid
It’s worth reminding readers just what the FIFA inspectors said in their
40-page report on Qatar’s bid, which was published in November 2010 and analysed by INSIDER’s James Corbett at the time.
FIFA risk ranking: 7 low risk/ 8 medium risk/ 1 high risk/ high overall operational risk
– The “logistical” problems FIFA inspection chairman, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, referenced on his visit to the Gulf kingdom in September recur several times in the report. The idea of hosting a compact World Cup is “innovative” say FIFA, but “the number of matches (three to four) per day played in very close proximity, could raise questions with regard to logistics and security.”
– FIFA note the experimental nature of the much-vaunted revolutionary cooling technologies, pointing out that they are still to be deployed “in stadiums of a similar size to those used in the FIFA World Cup.”
– The bid is marked as “high risk” for team facilities. There seems to be some confusion with the “basic information” given about “innovative” ideas regarding venue specific hotels and venue specific training sites. The idea of a variation on the Olympic village concept relies “on several critical assumptions for success” and are too close to each other for FIFA’s liking, but at the same time “fully comply” with FIFA’s template.
– Work on the huge transport developments at the heart of Qatar’s bid would need to start immediately. Any delay “would impact on FIFA’s tournament operations.” There are also concerns about adequate testing periods. The reliance on the New Doha International Airport as the “primary air gateway… also requires careful consideration” given the lack of alternatives.
– FIFA criticises the security plan, saying it lacks “sufficient detail” and would need further testing pre-tournament.
– Qatar’s size is also mentioned, saying it has “limited potential” for a sponsorship market. There is no mention of the wider Middle East region, which the bid has constantly trumpeted.
– Qatar is ranked an overall low legal risk, but FIFA notes that the country’s laws are written in Arabic with no official translation. This “creates an intrinsic risk concerning all legal relationships in Qatar.”
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson, with reporting from James Corbett
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