Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s general secretary, has said there will be “no apology” and “no compensation” from the world governing body over its decision to move Qatar’s 2022 World Cup to winter, prompting threats of legal action from Europe’s powerful football leagues.
“Why should we apologise to the clubs?” he said at a news conference in Doha, Qatar. “We are bringing all our people to enjoy the sporting and the financial result of the World Cup. So why to apologise?
“I definitely don’t feel I have to apologise for the decision made yesterday to confirm that the World Cup will not be played in the summer but in winter.”
Even the Uefa president, Michel Platini, has said he prefers the current working position of the World Cup final taking place on 23 December, a date that will decimate England’s traditional Boxing Day and new year fixtures.
Platini’s spokesperson Pedro Pinto confirmed that, once the January option had been ruled out because of a clash with the winter Olympics, it was Uefa that “suggested an option could be for the final to be played on 23 December.” Such a date will have minimal impact on Uefa’s Champions’ League competition.
The cancellation of the Premier League’s Christmas fixtures that season threatens to reduce the value of its rights to broadcasters, which were recently sold domestically for £5.1bn for three seasons.
Moving the tournament to winter also threatened a major backlash from the American broadcaster Fox Sports, which had paid vast sums on the basis of a summer tournament. Fox has since been awarded the rights to the 2026 tournament, which may very well be a home tournament for the United States, without a competitive tender taking place.
When questioned on the matter, Valcke said: “We have done what we had to do in order to protect Fifa and to protect the organisation of the World Cup and without any breach of any international rules on the business side of this negotiation.”
Valcke, a Frenchman, a loyalist to Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter and the general secretary for eight years, also later wrote on Twitter that he had been to visit some of accommodation camps for migrant workers building the stadiums for the tournament.
“Good to see the Al Wakrah stadium workers living facilities. Pleased 2022 organisers are upholding workers welfare, as promised,” he said.
“Qatar 2022 shows the power of the #WorldCup to act as a catalyst. We look forward to sustainable change for all workers.”
Qatar’s thousands of immigrant labourers work under the kafala system, whereby they are essentially owned by their company and require exit permits to leave the country.
Hundreds of deaths have already been reported on building sites since the World Cup was awarded in 2010. Reports from other news organisations and human rights groups show appalling conditions, with men sleeping on bunk beds barely an arm’s width apart, and filthy cooking and toilet facilities.Reuse content