SBD/September 16, 2013/Events and Attractions

Sunil Gulati "Rocking The Boat" In Stance Against FIFA Moving World Cup To Winter

Gulati's concerns include TV conflicts with NFL, college football telecasts
U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said that he "planned to do everything he could to stop" FIFA's Exec Committee from voting to move the '22 World Cup to the winter, according to Sam Borden of the N.Y. TIMES. Gulati's comments come "despite the fact that he has been on the most powerful committee in soccer for only four months, and despite the risk that he could be seen as the stereotypically loud American trying to shake up the FIFA establishment." FIFA President Sepp Blatter "plans to call for a vote at the next executive committee meeting, which begins Oct. 3," and Gulati "thinks that is wrong." Gulati: "I don’t see at this stage, frankly, how I or any member of FIFA’s executive committee could make a sensible decision. We don’t have enough information, and there are too many questions. I don’t see how anybody in a position of responsibility can take a position without some answers." He added, "If the position I’m taking ... is rocking the boat, then I’m going to be rocking the boat." In addition to climate issues, Gulati "divides the concerns into four categories: how a change affects participants, including players, officials and fans; how it affects FIFA’s economics; how it affects FIFA constituents, like the various domestic leagues and club teams around the world; and how it affects the Qatari organizing committee." Borden noted there is speculation that a change to the winter could prompt countries that lost the World Cup bid to Qatar to "seek legal action." FIFA's corporate partners "might take similar paths, opening the organization to serious liability." Gulati also wondered how a winter World Cup would impact the event's success on U.S. TV, saying, "How does a move affect us trying to promote the game if we’re up against the NFL or college football now?" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14). 

FOX SET TO TROT? In London, Nick Harris cited sources as saying it is "unimaginable" that Fox would accept a switch to winter. A Fox spokesperson said, "Fox Sports bought the World Cup rights with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s" (London DAILY MAIL, 9/14).
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