European Club Association leaders Rummenigge and Gandini were on a panel at the conference (WFI)

(WFI) The IOC tells INSIDER that it will not consider the European Club Association’s proposal to move the 2022 Winter Olympics to accommodate the Qatar World Cup.

“It is in the interest of both organisations (FIFA and IOC) that there is no clash between our calendars, and we have received assurances from president Blatter that this will not be the case,” the IOC’s communications chief Mark Adams told INSIDER.

The IOC’s firm dismissal of a plan floated by Umberto Gandini, vice chairman of the European Club Association, at the Leaders Sport Summit in London yesterday surely signals an end to lobbying to move the Qatar World Cup to January/February in 2022, the traditional window for the Winter Games.

Gandini had warned that the 2022 Winter Olympics may have to change its dates to avoid a clash with the Qatar World Cup. He was speaking at the Leaders conference Wednesday, along with ECA chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge.
Gandini said the football showpiece should take priority.

“The World Cup is one of the major events in the sports landscape [along] with the summer Olympics,” he said. “But the Winter Olympics are not up there.

“When you have such a huge event like the World Cup don’t tell me it’s not possible to move the Winter Olympics a bit especially now where [the IOC] is still in the bid process and there are only two candidates; Beijing and Almaty.

“With wisdom and debate it is possible to achieve a solution which will satisfy the majority.”

But while Gandini’s comments provoke debate, his calls will fall on deaf ears. The IOC will not have its Olympics overshadowed by Qatar’s World Cup preparations.

A FIFA task force led by Sheikh Salman Ebrahim al Khalifa is currently investigating whether the dates for the 2022 World Cup should be changed due to the Gulf nation’s searing summer temperatures. Last month the task force confirmed that the January/February window was now an option along with November/ December.

IOC president Thomas Bach reacted to this by telling INSIDER he had no reason to fear a scheduling conflict between the Qatar tournament and the Winter Olympics, indicating that he would not allow it to happen.

He said Sepp Blatter, who favours a November/December Qatar World Cup, had offered reassurances. “He sees this exactly in the same way, and he could not imagine having a World Cup and a Winter Olympic Games at the same time,” the German said.

FIFA’s 2022 task force will meet again in November and February with a decision on the date for the Qatar World Cup expected by summer 2015.

European clubs and leaders of the continent’s domestic leagues are lobbying against relocating the 2022 tournament to winter. The European Club Association said last month that “very good reasons” were needed to move the World Cup to November/ December because it would disrupt the league competitions and the Champions League.

And at the Leaders conference at Chelsea FC’s stadium yesterday, Rummenigge was more forthright than he has been previously about changing the dates for the World Cup. He said the final decision should be taken with clear consideration of the European clubs – who he pointed out made up 76 per cent of the players at the previous two tournaments.

“We are ready to discuss changing the date under one condition – that there is no damage for club football because if we change from summer to November or January it will affect our business,” said Bayern Munich’s chief executive.

“That [cost] cannot be paid by the clubs. We are not ready to pay it and it has to be made clear to FIFA that they need the goodwill of the clubs or we are not ready to talk or discuss it.”

By Christian Radnedge and Mark Bisson

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