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SBD Global/March 20, 2013/International Football

EPL Chair Warms Up To Staging Qatar's 2022 World Cup In Winter, League Still Opposed

The "prospect of the 2022 World Cup being switched to the winter has increased" after Premier League Chair Dave Richards and Britain's FIFA VP Jim Boyce both offered support for the move, according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. The Premier League has always strongly opposed a change, but Richards admitted that "the tournament cannot be staged in the summer due to the heat." Boyce has now backed UEFA President Michel Platini's call for the tournament to be held during the winter. Richards said: "I think they will play (the World Cup) at a time that is proper for football, but they will have to speak to the leagues in Europe. They will have to agree proper times when we can start and finish" (PA, 3/19).

EPL AGAINST SWITCH: The BBC reported the Premier League said that "it is opposed" to holding the World Cup in the winter "despite comments from chairman Sir Dave Richards." A Premier League spokesperson said its "view remains unchanged" in spite of Richard's comments. The spokesperson said, "We are opposed to a winter World Cup for obvious practical reasons that would impact on all European domestic football" (BBC, 3/19).

TIME TO PREPARE: In London, Ashling O'Connor reported Richards called on FIFA to decide whether the Qatar World Cup "would be staged in the winter, so professional leagues had time to accommodate it within busy fixture lists." Richards said that the big European leagues would initially be "up in arms" over any proposal to switch the tournament to the winter months, but said he believed it would ultimately happen. He said, "For us [the Premier League], at this minute, the answer is no. But if you take the proper view that we may have to find a way where we have a winter period where we don’t play, I think common sense will prevail over time." The idea of moving the dates of the 2022 World Cup "is increasingly gaining traction." The debate "is stuck in a political stand-off." The Qatari organizers said that it is up to FIFA to make the decision, but FIFA "wants them to propose it amid suggestions that Australia and the United States, which bid against Qatar, could challenge the move in the courts." FIFA said that "the options could remain open" until the '19-22 schedule is set (LONDON TIMES, 3/19).
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