European clubs 'open' to winter World Cup - but urge patience over decision to move Qatar tournament
Heats in the summer make the usual scheduling for the tournament impossible
Tuesday 10 September 2013
Europe's leading clubs remain “open” to the possibility of a one-off a winter World Cup in 2022 but have urged FIFA not to make any rash decisions.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for the tournament to be moved because of the fearsome summer heat.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association, says his members agree with Blatter in principle - but that nothing should be done too soon.
"We're not in a hurry, there are still nine years to go," said Rummenigge following the ECA's general assembly in Geneva. "The feeling is it is probably better to play it in winter."
Ever since Qatar controversially won the right to host the World Cup, staging the tournament in temperatures that can reach 50C in mid-summer has been hugely debated.
In an interview on Monday, Blatter told InsideWorldFootball.com that it "may" have been a mistake to hand the tournament to the tiny Gulf country at the time - and that he wants his executive committee to support his call for a switch at their next meeting in Zurich on Oct 4.
But Rummenigge countered: "I don't understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision. I personally believe there is no hurry.
"Having the World Cup in Qatar is not a mistake. But we are requesting a solution which in the end does not affect our business too much. After visiting Qatar at our last general assembly we had a good feeling about the organisation of a World Cup there."
UEFA president Michel Platini says he voted for Qatar in December, 2010, expecting the World Cup was played in winter.
"We will have a discussion in Dubrovnik but we will do it very carefully in the right way," Rummenigge said. "We have to be very careful in terms of how much a change from summer to a different time would impact on our business.
"We want guarantees that we are involved in the decision-making process."
Meanwhile, the body embracing Europe's top leagues, including the Premier League - which is fiercely opposed to a winter World Cup - has also demanded that FIFA refrain from imposing any "artificial deadlines."
In a statement released from its Swiss headquarters, the European Professional Football Leagues said: "The EPFL...is of the view that no hasty decision shall be made by the FIFA executive committee of October 3-4 considering...such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines as the concerned FIFA World Cup will take place in nine years.
"The feasibility of any change to the calendar involves every aspect of football organisation across all countries, from the grass roots to the major national representative tournaments and the leagues.
"Any suggestion of staging the World Cup at a time other than the traditional period is a crucial issue for the European Leagues considering the impact on the organisation of domestic championships throughout Europe, and of the international football calendar around the world.
"Prior to any decision, the side effects on the international calendar of a possible rescheduling should be assessed through an extensive fact-based analysis taking into account the potential clash with other major international events, for instance the Winter Olympic Games."
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