Giving the world cup hosting rights to Qatar in 2022 may have been “a mistake” said FIFA President Sepp Blatter, last week. The only surprise to fans around the globe was the fact that the FIFA President actually admitted it was an error of judgement.
Qatar was awarded the 2022 hosting rights back in 2010, and since then the issue of the heat when hosting a tournament during summer months, hasn’t been the only issue continually being raised, the gulf nation has also been accused of buying the right to host the Cup.
Having initially indicated to all bidders that the tournament must be held in the European summer Blatter and FIFA are now back-flipping on the scheduling of the tournament. With a meeting of the FIFA executive scheduled for next month it looks inevitable that a winter World Cup will be confirmed.
There are many who felt that the European leagues and clubs, which is where the balance of football power lies would not stand for such a change. The English Premier League’s chief executive Richard Scudamore has insisted that the tournament should go ahead in the summer. However he has not received the support he expected with many of Europe’s leading clubs saying that they are “open” to the possibility of a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
Former captain of Germany Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, now chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) believes it is “probably” better to switch the finals to winter. So England may find themselves out on their own.
However Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert was quoted on the eve of the Champions League final as saying “I’m not sure of the credibility of FIFA. It shows me FIFA, as a body which says what’s good for the game, ignores completely the day-by-day basis in those leagues who are effectively the core and the heart of football – not the tournament that comes up every four years.”
The daytime temperatures in Qatar usually peak at 42 degrees Celsius during June and July, while overnight temperatures typically don’t fall below 30 degrees. The climate during November and December however is more similar to that of a European summer where the average daytime temperature is around 26 degrees Celsius and there is even the chance of some rain.
Moving the tournament, if it is to be held in Qatar makes sense in terms of the weather, but there are fears that moving of the tournament will result in legal action from those other nations who bid for a Summer tournament, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States. Blatter has however quoted a clause in the bidding document that he claims gives FIFA the power to switch to a winter tournament without facing legal action.
Many are sure the tournament will be moved following the meeting next month. If it is not one radical change that may be tabled is should the tournament remain in June and July games be split into three half hour periods, in order to protect the players and keep them hydrated. The added bonus with such a move is it would bring in more advertising revenue to the television coverage with an extra break being taken, and this could well appeal to FIFA. It is not however likely to appeal to the fans.