Sarkozy says IOC and Fifa should alter calendars
Nicolas Sarkozy, who forged close trade links with Qatar in his time as French president, has appealed to international sports governing bodies to change their calendar to allow more countries to host sporting events. The former French president was seen as playing a key role in delivering the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, although the Uefa president, Michel Platini, has always denied that he influenced his vote.
Sarkozy said that Fifa and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should be prepared to alter their calendar to accommodate countries that were too hot in the summer to stage their events. “I say this from my heart, I do believe the issue of scheduling events needs to be reconsidered. Sport is universal. Scheduling is a means to an end, not an end in itself. For that reason we need to adapt the schedule,” said Sarkozy.
He said he had “supported and applauded” the controversial decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar in December 2010. Ever since, a debate has raged over whether it should be moved to the winter to avoid searing summer temperatures that reach 41 degrees. Recently, the IOC gave permission for Doha to bid for the 2020 Olympics on the basis that they could be held later in the year, but it was omitted from the shortlist when it was announced in May. It is expected to bid again for 2024.
“The World Cup can’t be the prerogative of France, Italy or Britain only. Football is of such importance throughout the world it must be shared,” said Sarkozy, speaking at the Goals conference in Doha. “It can’t be the exclusive property of a few western nations. If you love football it must be shared.”
His views chime with those of Platini, who has angered some of the European leagues by repeatedly suggesting the 2022 World Cup should be played in the winter, which would cause significant disruption to their season.
“Is it essential that the Olympic Games be systematically held in the month of August? Where is it written that it must be in August? Would they be less interesting in June?” said Sarkozy. “As for the World Cup, which I have followed so passionately for so many years, must it absolutely be organised in July? Were the World Cup to take place in another time of the year, would it not be as enthralling?”
Qatar 2022 organisers have insisted they are planning for a summer World Cup, but will move it if asked by Fifa.