Qatar 2022 responds to latest round of World Cup debate

12 Aug 2013

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee has hit back at criticism of the Gulf state having been awarded the hosting rights for the FIFA World Cup in nine years’ time after the debate over the tournament escalated.

Newly appointed English Football Association (FA) chairman Greg Dyke said that a summer World Cup in Qatar would be “impossible” because of the searing heat and called on FIFA to either find a new host for the 2022 tournament or reschedule it to the winter. Dyke’s comments came as Bayern Munchen CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge revealed that UEFA would favour a ‘block’ system of domestic fixtures in a bid to tackle the thorny issue of a winter World Cup. He told German magazine Kicker: “I like to call it the Lego system. The idea is based on periods of time. You could hold a World Cup in January or February – for instance the one in Qatar – and if the World Cup returns to Europe in 2026, you could play it in the summer again.” Rummenigge, who is also chairman of the powerful European Club Association, said this system could be achieved by formulating different fixture blocks. He added: “(There would be) Some three or four months for club football only, then maybe a month of national team football for qualification games and friendlies. This system can be adjusted to play World Cups in January or June. You only have to move the modules around. Of course this would be revolutionary and, at the beginning, maybe a bit irritating for the fans, but I am convinced it can also have advantages.”

Responding to the latest round of debate, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement to the Associated Press: “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.” FIFA has said its executive committee will meet on October 3-4 to discuss the issue of potentially switching the 2022 World Cup to a winter calendar slot. The Qatari statement added: “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 English Premier League has been one of the most vocal opponents of any potential switch in dates for Qatar 2022, claiming that such a move would disrupt the calendar for both that season and the ones before and after, and also affect broadcast contracts. However, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has stated his belief that there is more than enough time to instigate the necessary changes to the traditional calendar system. “I fully understand the Premier League but I would hope that in nine years’ time – it’s not next year or the following – that for the good of football people can sit down and realise a sensible decision has to be made,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme. “Most of the opposition appears to be coming from the Premier League. There are many European countries who cannot play in the winter and do have a winter break. I read the Premier League are saying this impacts on three seasons. If people sit down and work out the calendar properly, I don’t see why it would affect three seasons. The Premier League is probably the biggest in the world but this is nine years hence.”