GENEVA: European soccer clubs want to be involved in discussions over a possible winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and have urged FIFA not to rush a decision, saying there is “no hurry”.
Football’s governing body FIFA will meet next month to discuss a proposal from President Sepp Blatter to shift the finals to the northern-hemisphere winter because of the searing heat in Qatar in the summer.
The European Clubs Association (ECA), which has more than 200 members, said yesterday that it wanted to be consulted before any decision was made.
Another organisation, representing the European leagues, set out obstacles to the move as it also urged FIFA not to rush a decision.
“I personally believe there is no hurry and I don’t understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October,” ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a news conference.
“I think that nine years is more than enough to do this very sensibly and prudently, in the best interests of football. “We have to be very sensible to find the best solution which will be accepted by all stakeholders in the football family, because it affects our business,” added the former West Germany, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan forward, who is also Bayern Munich chairman.
“If there is a change, the clubs, the leagues, the associations and the players have the right to be heard and to discuss the best solution with FIFA concerning a change for the World Cup.”
He said the clubs would discuss the matter with European soccer’s governing body UEFA before their executive committee meeting in Croatia next week.
Rummenigge said he was surprised by Blatter’s comment in an interview on Monday that it might have been a mistake to award the tournament to the tiny Gulf state.
“I don’t know why he did that because they already decided in favour of Qatar and that’s it,” he said.
“I don’t believe it was a mistake, it was a political decision in favour of Qatar to bring the World Cup to an Arabian country, and that’s it.
“We accept it and everyone accepts it and it’s not nice for the people in Qatar to always hear these kinds of comments.”
Blatter has insisted that shifting the World Cup from its traditional months of June and July makes sense for 2022. Summer temperatures in the Gulf can hit a blistering 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), but cool to the mid-20s in the winter. This week, Blatter upped the ante by saying it was not responsible to play in Qatar in the summer, even though technology exists to cool venues.
European nations, in particular England, have cried foul at the idea of holding the globe’s most-watched sporting event in January and February, however.
They underline that Qatar bid to host the tournament during Europe’s June-July close season, and that a change would disrupt their domestic leagues.
Rummenigge said heat was part and parcel of football, recalling the stifling weather when he played in the 1986 World Cup final in Mexico.
Northern hemisphere summer dates have been stuck to in the past even when the World Cup was staged in the southern hemisphere -- the weather at the 2010 edition in South Africa was often chilly, for example.
But Blatter argues that June and July are never set in stone, and that rescheduling would reflect football’s global appeal by showing that anyone can host the World Cup.
The 2022 edition will be the first in the Arab world.
Earlier, the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) said FIFA should consult widely before making any change to the regular schedule of playing the World Cup in June and July.
“Such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines,” the EPFL said in a statement.
As well as disrupting club competitions, the EPFL said a date change would have an impact on player contracts and the transfer system which is based on a European season running from August to May.
It also noted a potentially damaging clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, another major attraction for sponsors and broadcasters.
The EPFL called for a medical assessment of the impact of a summer World Cup on the health of players and fans before any decision was made.
English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has argued that a winter World Cup could disrupt the European soccer calendar for up to three seasons because of the knock-on effects of having to stop and start a campaign.Agencies