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SBD Global/March 4, 2013/International Football

FIFA's Valcke Says Doctors Could Decide If Qatar's 2022 World Cup Is Moved To Winter

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar "could be moved to winter if medical reports show summer temperatures in Qatar would be dangerously high," according to Richard Conway of the BBC. FIFA has "always maintained that Qatar would have to make the request to move the tournament." However, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, speaking at the meeting of the Int'l FA Board in Edinburgh, Scotland, became the first senior FIFA official to "say the event could be moved if they receive strong medical advice that it needs to do so." Valcke: "Maybe the FIFA Exco [exec committee] will say based on medical reports or whatever: 'We really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter'" (BBC, 3/2). In London, Andrew Warshaw reported tournament organizers have said that a decision on moving to a winter date would have to be made by '14 "in order to give national leagues time to reorganise their calendars." However, Valcke indicated that could be extended to '15. Valcke: "As long as we've not fixed the international calendar, all alternatives are open" (DAILY MAIL, 3/2).

SOUND BITES: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Valcke "stepped into the seemingly never-ending debate" at a media briefing following the IFAB meeting. Valcke said, "FIFA has never said 'never,' we have just said 'we are waiting for Qatar to officially ask FIFA to look at the potential to move the World Cup from summer to winter' and that has not happened yet." He added, "The most important thing is to make sure work with all stakeholders and make sure there is full agreement with all parties, leagues, clubs and we would have to find eight weeks in the mid-season to play the World Cup." Valcke said FIFA's exec committee would "make a unilateral decision only if there were strong medical evidence in favor of a change" (REUTERS, 3/2).

REGIONAL HELP: Deutsche Welle's Mark Hallam reported UEFA President Michel Platini told Germany's Bild paper that the Qatar World Cup "should not take place in the summer." Platini also said "it should not just take place in Qatar, incorporating the region instead." Platini said if he were FIFA President he would let the event take place in Qatar "with great pleasure." Platini told Bild that "he approved the hosting of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with two provisos:" that the event would take place in winter and that it "wouldn't be solely in Qatar." Platini: "The neighboring emirates must be incorporated so that the World Cup takes place in the entire region" (DW, 3/2). ARABIAN BUSINESS' Neil King reported critics "have questioned whether Qatar has the necessary infrastructure to stage the event." Countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait "could be called upon to help stage the tournament by hosting matches and providing accommodation for the huge number of fans which are expected to arrive in the region" (ARABIAN BUSINESS, 3/3).
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