Qatar final date would allow St Stephen’s Day fixtures
Fifa confirms emirate’s national day of December 18th World Cup 2022 final date
Sepp Blatter: the Fifa president has been accused of abdicating his responsibility by failing to debate the future of the game. Photograph: Jorge Adorno/Reuters
December 18th, Fifa has confirmed, allowing the English domestic programme to potentially resume on St Stephen’s Day.
After four years of intense controversy and debate in the wake of the 2010 vote to award the tournament to Qatar, a Fifa taskforce decided last month the tournament should start in November to avoid searing summer temperatures which regularly top 50 degrees.
Uefa had proposed the World Cup final could take place on December 23rd but the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, swiftly insisted the previously mooted date of December 18th, which also happens to be Qatar’s national day, was likely.
The decision was confirmed during a Fifa executive committee meeting in Zurich yesterday at which it is understood the Uefa president, Michel Platini, also agreed to the earlier date.
It was also agreed, in principle, that the tournament be played over a reduced timescale of 28 days.
The English Premier League and other European leagues have been vocal in their opposition to the decision and are now likely to focus on gaining other concessions over the international match calendar.
“I have been on record as saying I fully understand the Premier League wanting to resume their competition on Boxing Day. We are where we are,” said the British Fifa vice president, Jim Boyce.
Meanwhile, one of Sepp Blatter’s rivals for the Fifa presidency criticised the incumbent for failing to take part in a mature debate about the future of the governing body.
Amid increased concerns about Blatter’s refusal to engage, the Jordanian Fifa vice president, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, suggested the Fifa president was abdicating his responsibility by failing to debate the future of the game. Blatter has not only refused to take part in a televised debate with the other three candidates – Ali, former world footballer of the year Luís Figo and the Dutch FA president, Michael van Praag – but his campaign has been all but invisible so far.
While he has been busy receiving visitors to Fifa HQ in Zurich from football federations around the world, his rivals are understood to be concerned over whether he is using Fifa resources to run his campaign.
“I believe that this election campaign is an opportunity for an open and mature debate about the future direction of Fifa and all four candidates have a responsibility to football to engage in this debate,” said Prince Ali. “The broadcasters’ initiative is a good one and should be supported.”
This week Fifa announced 19 new development projects under its Goal programme worth $19.4 million (€18.2 million) in funding. Valcke has written to all Fifa staff to remind them that neither they, nor any consultants appointed by or working for the organisation, are permitted to take part in the election campaign before the vote on May 29th. Guardian Service