Richard Scudamore calls for meaningful consultation before Fifa move World Cup to winter date
Governing body set to appoint a task force today to look into the controversial move
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is set to appoint a task force today to look into moving Qatar’s 2022 World Cup to the winter.
The English Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has warned it would be “morally reprehensible” for Fifa to move the Qatar 2022 World Cup to winter without meaningful consultation with the rest of the game.
The pressure from the Premier League and other professional leagues, Fifa’s broadcasting partners, and other stakeholders, looks set to result in a more emollient tone from the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, at the conclusion of a two-day meeting today. Blatter is expected to announce that there is broad agreement that the 2022 World Cup cannot be played at the height of summer but that a lengthy consultation period will be required to find a way forward.
As a result, there may be no final decision on the dates of the 2022 tournament for nine months or more. Fifa’s preferred option of November and December 2022 is seen as the most likely option but the Uefa president, Michel Platini, would prefer January and February so as not to clash with the group stages of the Champions League.
“I wouldn’t object to taking a decision on moving it in principle – I think nearly everybody is agreed on that,” said Northern Ireland’s Jim Boyce, the British representative on the Fifa executive committee. “But I don’t think we can make any decision on the exact timing – should it be in November, January or whenever – until we have got everyone in the game around the table to find a solution.”
Address the issue
Blatter is also expected to address the issue of workers’ rights in Qatar after an investigation found that dozens of Nepalese workers employed on infrastructure projects have died in recent weeks alone.
While there is a growing private acceptance in the football world among those who have opposed the switch to winter to avoid searing summer temperatures of 50 degrees and more, that the move is inevitable, there remains widespread annoyance at the way Fifa has gone about it.
“The language seems to be: ‘Qatar have won it. Right, now what? Where are we going to play it?’ Fifa has absolute power and responsibility in one area of that. But it would be morally reprehensible if they were to start tinkering with the World Cup calendar as early as October of this year,” said Scudamore.
“As though because they have the power to decide where the World Cup goes, they have the power to decide when it’s played. Those are two very different things. The sporting calendar across the world is affected.”
The association of European Professional Football Leagues, of which the Premier League is a part, has highlighted a range of potential issues with a winter switch that would affect the calendars for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. They include the impact on players’ contracts, broadcast deals and the knock-on effect on other sports.