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SBD Global/September 10, 2013/International Football

Sepp Blatter: FIFA Should Have Realized Summer Qatar World Cup A Mistake

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that it may have been a mistake to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted Monday that "mistakes were made over awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar," according to Giuseppe Muro of the London EVENING STANDARD. Blatter said that FIFA should have always realized that "the tournament would have to be moved to the winter." Asked whether FIFA's exec committee was aware, when making the decision in '10, it would be impossible for a summer World Cup in Qatar, Blatter said, "That may well be so and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time." The Premier League is "among a number of leagues across Europe" to have voiced its opposition to a winter World Cup because of the effects it would have on its fixture schedule. Blatter added, "You must consider political and geo-political realities. Who are we, the Europeans, to demand that this event has to cater to the needs of 800 million Europeans above all, when there are over seven billion people who populate this planet?" (EVENING STANDARD, 9/9).

EXPECTING A SWITCH: In London, Dunbar & Drayton wrote Blatter expects his exec committee to agree that the '22 tournament "should be switched from the searing heat of summer." Blatter "has previously suggested November as a possible start for the month-long tournament while recent speculation has focused on May." A January-February slot "is unlikely because of a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics." Finding new dates could be led by the 27-member FIFA board in its duty to set the fixture schedule for int'l matches, "when clubs must release their players to national teams." The int'l calendar "is currently set through 2018," and the next round of discussions would look to the '19-22 cycle of seasons (DAILY MAIL, 9/9). Also in London, Owen Gibson reported The European Clubs Association, a coalition of 207 of the biggest clubs in Europe, "is meeting in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss the issue." ECA Senior VP Umberto Gandini believes it is "almost inevitable" it will have to accept the winter switch. If the ECA accepts the shift, it could leave the Premier League "increasingly isolated in its fervent opposition" (GUARDIAN, 9/9). In London, Matt Dickinson reported leading European leagues are "privately accepting the inevitability of the unprecedented switch." The switch to winter has yet to be ratified but looks certain when the Fifa executive committee meets next month in Zurich (LONDON TIMES, 9/10).
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