Leading clubs set to back winter World Cup in Qatar

Premier League set to be further isolated if European clubs support ‘one-off’ solution

Fifa president Sepp Blatter will recommend to the Fifa executive that the Qatar World Cup dates be  changed. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Fifa president Sepp Blatter will recommend to the Fifa executive that the Qatar World Cup dates be changed. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

 

Europe’s leading clubs are tomorrow expected to accept that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will have to be played in the winter - but only on the basis it is a “one-off”.

The European Clubs’ Association (ECA) will discuss the issue at a meeting in Geneva, and the organisation’s senior vice-president Umberto Gandini has admitted that moving the tournament from the summer is “almost inevitable”.

That will leave the Premier League’s opposition to any move looking increasingly isolated with even new Football Association chairman Greg Dyke favouring a switch despite the disruption.

A winter World Cup would not only affect the 2022 season, but the Confederations Cup would also be in the winter the previous season and there would be knock-on effects to domestic leagues for the years either side of the World Cup.

Fifa will make a decision on moving the World Cup next month with president Sepp Blatter claiming it is “discrimination” to stipulate it can only be played in the summer.

The ECA, however, are likely to insist that their support for a switch depends on it being a one-off.

Gandini said: “We have many individual opinions and league opinions, we do not have any ECA position yet as we will discuss this at the general assembly. Everything now is going to be moved by the Fifa executive committee decision in October.

“I have a personal opinion that it is almost inevitable. We will have to find a solution because it is very unlikely that you can play the World Cup in Qatar in the summer. Or maybe you can play it then but it will be impossible for fans to follow it so something will need to be addressed.

“Now it is a matter of studying the possible solutions and we will have to do it. I think it’s important it’s going to be a one-off and is not going to something that’s going to be there forever. If we have to find a one-off solution I think we will be able within the football family to find it but everybody has to be properly involved and we have to consider which is the best solution for football and the fans.”

Blatter has confirmed that he will recommend to the Fifa executive committee meeting in Zurich on October 3rd and 4th that the dates are changed.

He told insideworldfootball.com: “If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a Fifa World Cup can never be played in countries that are south of the equator or indeed near the equator. We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than we do in Europe.

“I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world any more, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in faraway places.”

Blatter said the next steps would be to include a “close look” at the international calendar and the consequences the change would have.

Senior Fifa sources say it would be more likely to play the tournament in November/December 2022 rather than January to avoid any clash with the winter Olympics.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, who has fiercely opposed any move, met Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke over lunch at an Italian restaurant in Zurich last week to discuss the issue but nothing was resolved.

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