(WFI) England Football Association chairman Greg Dyke is fully confident that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not be played in the summer.
Delegates and media convene at the Leaders in Football conference in London. (WFI)
Dyke was the opening speaker at Leaders in Football 2013 at Stamford Bridge, London.
In what was only his second address since being appointed last month, the 66-year-old waded into the debate about whether to switch the tournament from summer to winter.
“Anyone who has ever been to Qatar in the summer will know that you cannot hold a football tournament there,” he said. “Even if you could air-condition the stadium, the fans queue for hours and they cannot do that in that heat.
“The one thing that is clear is that that tournament will not be held in Qatar in the summer and I think we can all welcome that. I think we can assume that it will stay in Qatar, however.”
Dyke will meet with FIFA president Sepp Blatter this week.
Last week in Zurich, FIFA sanctioned a taskforce led by executive committee member Sheikh Salman to examine the pros and cons of moving the tournament’s dates.
But the FA would not be drawn on who from their 2018 bid committee would be meeting FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia as he begins his probe into the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.
They declined to comment to INSIDER.
FIFA bid inspector examines Qatar 2022 options
The timing of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be least distressing to the international calendar if moved to May-June, according to FIFA bid inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls.
The former president of the Chilean FA gave a thorough and examined presentation to the delegates about the possible options for moving the tournament.
FIFA bid inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls says Qatar is “not prepared to host.” (WFI)
Mayne-Nicholls was the one who raised serious concerns about the heat in the gulf state in his original evaluation report in 2010 – concerns that have only now seemed to have taken hold at FIFA, three years after they awarded the hosting rights to Qatar.
Referencing his original report, the Chilean admitted there was no ranking system for the bids but that a colour-coding system was used instead; “Green means no problem but orange means to be aware that it could be something and Qatar has two orange – the only one with oranges.”
Despite that, Qatar won on the fourth round of voting. Australia fell in the first round, followed by Japan and South Korea and, finally, the U.S.
But Mayne-Nicholls was adamant that now the hosting of the tournament must focus on the comfort of the fans.
“The World Cup will not be the World Cup if the fans are staying in the hotel lobby,” he said. “We have to work with the fans in mind. It’s not a TV show; it’s a fans’ show. We have to take care of the fans.”
Out of his three options for moving the tournament, including playing in October to November 2022 or January to February, Mayne-Nicholls put forth May to June as the least distressing for the international calendar.
That would mean the European leagues finishing by April 30th, and matches at the tournament still having to be played late evening and through the night.
The South American also suggested that the timing of the Confederations Cup would have to be reconsidered to make sure the air-cooling technology would work.
“What happened in Brazil, and what may happen in Qatar, I think we have to rethink this [Confederations Cup timing]. One year is not enough, if things are not working, to change the things. If this cooling technology system does not work in 2021, nobody can say that it will work in 2022, but it would be too late to change it.
“We must not only rethink the Confederations Cup, but rethink the warm-up period to the Confederations Cup. Brazil this year was not so easy.”
After showcasing his report, Mayne-Nicholls admitted that there was “no easy solution” and that it would take a lot of hard work to make it feasible.
But he did also admit that if the original decision were down to him, he would say Qatar is “not prepared to host.”
Gulati calls for bid changes
Part of Michael Garcia’s investigation will focus on the U.S., who failed in their bid to host the tournament in 2022. U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati therefore hoped that changes would be made to the whole bidding process.
Gulati was part of the bidding process which saw the U.S. lose out to Qatar to host the Cup in 2022.
The United States hosted the 1994 World Cup. (Getty Images)
“The World Cup and the Olympic Games have become so important to countries that, it’s a difficult situation for the U.S. or England, who will never operate a foreign policy depending on hosting a World Cup, so…if it’s new lands, then let us know and we won’t bother and England and Japan and Korea wouldn’t have bothered” he said.
“If it’s just based on the bid documents themselves, then we want to do that but the rules need to clearer and tighter and the process needs to be better. We’d want more clarity on not just the rules but the whole process.”
He added his belief that FIFA would do well to follow the example of the International Olympic Committee and added, “My thinking is it should be a public vote. The technical report should matter in some concrete way or it’s a waste of expenditure of funds and time.”
Gulati, who this year joined the FIFA executive committee, didn’t rule out a U.S. bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
“Are we interested in having the World Cup in the United States sometime in the future? The answer is yes. We would wait to see what the rules of engagement are before bidding.”
The American did deny, though, that the U.S. was thinking about asking for compensation should the World Cup be moved from the summer to the winter in 2022, unlike rival bidders Australia. Gulati added that FIFA were right to delay the decision until after Brazil 2014.
“I don’t understand what the rush was in the first place,” he said. “The event is nine years away. It’s a hugely important decision to change the national calendar and to not have a thorough, vetted study and understand what it means to those commercial contracts would be foolhardy, so FIFA has made the right decision.
“It’s clearly a difficult time to be playing in the fall or January for American broadcasters who have commitments to the NFL. How that is resolved is a discussion best left between FIFA and those commercial partners.”
But Gulati was just as evasive as the FA on his response to the investigation saying he would not discuss an independent investigation.