Europe fears chaotic World Cup switch

European clubs look set on a collision course with Fifa over radical plans to move the 2022 World Cup to the winter in order to avoid the searing summer heat of Qatar.

Fifa sources have confirmed that no fewer than three regular seasons would have to be overhauled to accommodate a switch, with as many as nine free weeks needed to cover the period before and after the tournament as well as the actual matches themselves.

Although there are more than 11 years to go, Fifa say that any move must be agreed by 2015. There are fears of widespread disruption to fixture schedules and commercial deals.

Even if the Premier League copied most of Europe and applied a winter break, it would not be nearly long enough. Three seasons – before, during and after the World Cup – would have start far earlier than usual and finish deep into the summer. "You would have to stop playing all the leagues by November," said one high-ranking Fifa source last night. "And you would have to start the new structure one season before the World Cup in order for it to be applied to 2021-22. I don't see how you could suddenly change."

Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, revealed on Friday that his executive committee members had begun to discuss a winter World Cup even before last month's World Cup vote. Premier League sources are said to be seriously concerned at the prospect of dividing the season into two parts, and other leagues across Europe seem bound to be equally concerned. One alternative being mentioned is to start the European season in March and run it through to November.

Crucially, no mention of a switch was made in Qatar's original bid, which promised to use revolutionary cooling techniques for a June-July tournament, when temperatures in the emirate can reach 50C. Although Blatter will have stepped down by 2022, he is almost certain to run Fifa for another four years after this summer.

Last week, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, the president of the Jordan Football Association, caused a major upset by ousting Asia's long-standing Fifa vice- president, Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea. This is one of the most powerful positions in world football and significantly Prince Ali, a son of the late King Hussein and at 35 by far the youngest Fifa powerbroker, is a staunch ally of Blatter, who now seems increasingly likely to stand unopposed on 1 June for an unprecedented fourth term.

The Independent on Sunday has learned that Prince Ali is keen for Premier League clubs, and possibly even the England team, to visit Asia as part of a long-term programme to develop football in the region.

"This is one of the issues I want to tackle," he said. "It would be a great encouragement for countries in Asia to be able to see their heroes. England is like a second home to me."

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'