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Wenger Says Winter World Cup Would Cause
Problems Between Clubs, Countries And FIFA
EPL managers have "voiced their opposition" to the idea of holding the '22 Qatar World Cup in the winter, according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. A winter tournament would "clash with established sports events," including the Australian Open and the Winter Olympics, and "would have significant implications for domestic leagues in Europe, which would be midway through their seasons." Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said, "It would demand a complete reorganisation of the whole world's fixtures and I cannot see that happening. It would create many problems between clubs and countries and FIFA." Everton manager David Moyes added of the necessity of a winter tournament, "Was everyone aware of that before they made their choice? Because I think, if that had been put to the relevant countries, there may have been a lot of people not choosing Qatar." O'Connor noted FIFA President Sepp Blatter in moving the tournament's date would be "picking a fight with powerful European clubs, many of whom are angry about the lack of consultation on the issue." The World Cup's commercial partners "may be more compliant." But "other broadcasters and sponsors, such as Sky and Barclays, who have paid huge sums for commercial rights to the Premier League, would object" (LONDON TIMES, 1/8). In London, Andrew Warshaw cited FIFA sources as saying that "no fewer than three regular seasons would have to be overhauled to accommodate a switch, with as many as nine free weeks needed to cover the period before and after the tournament as well as the actual matches themselves." Even if the EPL "copied most of Europe and applied a winter break, it would not be nearly long enough." A FIFA official: "You would have to stop playing all the leagues by November. And you would have to start the new structure one season before the World Cup in order for it to be applied to 2021-22. I don't see how you could suddenly change." FIFA also said that any change of the date "must be agreed by 2015" (London INDEPENDENT, 1/9).
ISSUES FOR FIFA: In London, Paul Kelso wrote the impact of moving the tournament to the winter could be "profound" for FIFA, as "skepticism over the executive committee's decision to come to Qatar is fueled by the growing belief that the move to winter was a fait accompli, and the bid therefore a false prospectus." Blatter is "shrewd enough to realise this, though probably not to embrace the wholesale reform necessary to restore confidence." Blatter over the weekend "made it clear he recognises the damage the decision" to award Qatar the World Cup has done, but his demeanor suggested that he is "uncomfortable defending a choice most observers believe he did not support." Blatter said that he "was 'sad' that FIFA's reputation was so low in the public mind, but rejected the suggestion that the decision to come to Qatar ... had damaged its credibility." He "blamed many of FIFA's problems on the governance structure, in which the President is elected by all 208 member associations and the executive committee, which controls all decisions, by the Confederations" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 1/8). U.S. FIFA Exec Committee member Chuck Blazer Friday said of changing the tournament's date, "I don't understand, frankly, why there is such a rush at this point to try to resolve this. A lot of people have interests that need to be taken into account." Blazer added of why some FIFA officials are "jumping on the winter bandwagon" for the tournament: "Maybe a lot of people felt they had to explain their vote. Maybe this gives them justification" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/8).