FIFA open to 2022 Qatar World Cup moving to winter
EDINBURGH, Scotland -- FIFA believes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be moved to winter if medical evidence showed that playing in the intense summer heat would be dangerous.
FIFA has previously insisted that Qatar would have to make the request to move the tournament, while the tiny emirate has placed responsibility on world soccer governing body to make the call.
In a sign that the impasse could be ending, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the executive committee could decide on the shift to winter if the June temperatures, which can exceed 104 degrees, are deemed dangerous.
"Maybe the FIFA Ex-Co will say based on medical report or whatever we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter," Valcke said Saturday after a meeting of soccer's rule-makers.
"As long as we have not fixed the international calendar, all alternatives are open," he added. "It's in 2022, nine years and we have two World Cups to organize in Brazil and Russia. So there is some time."
Valcke said moving the tournament would not open up FIFA to legal challenges from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia, who lost out to Qatar in the 2010 vote.
"Would you think we would open a discussion if we are not sure there would be no legal challenge to do so?" Valcke said.
While Qatar unexpectedly landed the 2022 showpiece tournament with plans for air-conditioned stadiums, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has acknowledged that fans could struggle to cope with the heat away outside the venues in June.
UEFA President Michel Platini favors a move to the cooler winter months, telling German newspaper Bild on Saturday that the summer heat would be "unbearable" for fans and players.
But the European soccer chief's view is opposed by Jeffrey Webb, president of CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
"Historically, the World Cup is always played in June and I would definitely like the World Cup to be played in June, we accepted it," Webb said. "We went through a long process regarding that."
Moving the World Cup to winter would interrupt the European club season, and the Premier League is opposed to it.
"As long as we have not fixed the international calendar (for 2019 to `22) all alternatives are open," Valcke said.
"The most important thing is to make sure (we) work with all stakeholders and make sure there is full agreement with all parties, leagues, clubs, and we would have to find eight weeks in the mid-season to play the World Cup."
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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