Blatter determined to move 2022 World Cup

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is determined to switch the 2022 World Cup to the winter because of the intense Qatar summer heat.
Sepp Blatter believes there is still time to switch the 2022 World Cup to winter
Sepp Blatter believes there is still time to switch the 2022 World Cup to winter

Fifa president Sepp Blatter is determined to switch the 2022 World Cup to the winter because of the intense Qatar summer heat.

The head of world football’s governing body plans discussions over the change, which would cause major disruption to various domestic leagues, with his executive committee in October.

He said: “We still have enough time.

“The executive committee will certainly follow my proposal. Then we will have dealt with the topic for good.”

Temperatures can hit 50C in Qatar, with games scheduled to be played in air-conditioned stadiums.

But Blatter said: “The Fifa World Cup must be a festival of the people. But for it to be such a festival, you can’t play football in the summer.

“You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country and you can’t simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup. The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup.”

Speaking via video link, the head of Qatar’s organising committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi, told the conference in Austria: “If it’s a wish of the football community to have the World Cup in winter, then we are open to that.”

Blatter said his change of heart had followed medical information about the effects of the heat on players.

“There has been a fresh medical investigation into what it would be like to play football there in the summer and we have to take into account the health, not of the spectators, but of the players,” he told Sky Germany.

Moving the World Cup to the winter would significantly impact on the the European leagues. Many leagues outside Britain have a winter break but they would need a hiatus of at least six weeks to accommodate national teams preparing for, and playing at, the World Cup finals.

“We have to have the courage - that is Fifa’s executive committee - to play this World Cup in the winter and to start to work out now what impact this will have on the international calendar,” Blatter added.

“It would only be for one year, afterwards you’d be back to the normal routine. But I will advocate that.”

Qatar defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to win a ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members for the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Blatter said Brazil might have been the wrong choice to host the 2014 World Cup if the tournament is affected by the wave of protests seens at the Confederation Cup last month.

Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets expressing their anger over the costs to stage the World Cup and demanding better public services.

“If this happens again we have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights,” Blatter said.

“We didn’t do a political debriefing, but we did emphasise the fact of this social unrest being there for the entire duration of the Confederations Cup.

“The government is now aware that next year the World Cup shouldn’t be disturbed.”

He added: “It’s not we who have to learn lessons from the protests in Brazil; politics in Brazil have to do that.”

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