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SBD Global/September 20, 2013/International Football

UEFA Backs Winter World Cup In Qatar, FIFA To Make Decision At Oct. 3 Meeting

Sepp Blatter said that FIFA was 'pressured' to award the World Cup to Qatar.
The prospect of a winter World Cup in '22 "took a step forward after European football chiefs agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar," according to Phil McNulty of the BBC. UEFA's 54 member associations "backed the switch at a meeting in Croatia." FIFA VP Jim Boyce said, "The World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer. Everyone was certainly in agreement about that." Boyce added that "the debate was now whether the tournament would be played in January of 2022 or in November and December of that year." UEFA favors January so that it does not impact on the Champions League, "but British associations want to ensure their domestic festive fixtures are protected." Boyce said that the associations do not want FIFA "to rush that decision." Boyce: "There is still nine years to go and people feel FIFA should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football" (BBC, 9/19). The PA reported FIFA's exec committee "is now expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup to the winter at its meeting in Zurich" on Oct. 3 (PA, 9/19).

MOMENTUM FOR CHANGE: The AP reported Estonia FA President Aivar Pohlak said UEFA had "quite clear" support for the switch in Qatar. Pohlak said, "As an exception and that is it. As a one-time problem, it can be handled." UEFA President Michel Platini "will announce UEFA's position" after meetings with his strategy council and exec committee end Friday. Nearly three years after Qatar was awarded '22 hosting rights by the "much-criticized" FIFA board, "it appears there's momentum for changing the World Cup plan." Belgium Football Federation President Francois de Keersmaecker said, "It seems the 2022 World Cup can't be played in the months of June and July." Scotland FA CEO Stewart Regan said, "There is a belief that playing it in summer would not be proper for players, for spectators and for broadcasters and media partners" (AP, 9/18). REUTERS' Karolos Grohmann wrote FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Wednesday that "top European politicians pressured" FIFA to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Qatar "was awarded the World Cup three years ago in a surprise decision which Blatter said was partly because of European politicians urging FIFA members to vote for it." Blatter: "European heads of governments advised voting FIFA members to vote for Qatar because of the wide financial interests linked with that country" (REUTERS, 9/19). In London, Oliver Kay wrote when asked if he felt that some members of the FIFA exec committee had voted for Qatar for reasons other than sport, Blatter said, “Yes, there was definitely direct political influence" (LONDON TIMES, 9/19).

GOOD OF THE REGION: WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER's James Corbett wrote FIFA VP Prince Ali Bin Hussein has called on FIFA and the organizers of the 2022 World Cup "to begin delivering legacy projects with immediate effect." Speaking at a joint AFC/Asian Football Development Project seminar in Amman, Jordan, Prince Ali "called on the two parties to deliver on bid promises" that the tournament "would be for the benefit of the whole region." Qatar's winning bid "was based on the premise of a World Cup for the entire Middle East with lavish pledges of grassroots engagement." Prince Ali said, "One thing that I desire with the Qataris and FIFA is that the legacy projects should begin now and not after the World Cup, as has happened after other World Cups" (WORLD FOOTBALL INSIDER, 9/18).

IOC ISSUES WARNING: The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported the IOC "has warned FIFA that any switch of the 2022 World Cup from the summer must not affect the winter Olympics in that year." Playing the World Cup in January and February "would have a direct impact on the Winter Olympics -- and the IOC would stand in the way of any such move, with the organisation having the ultimate sanction of kicking football out of the Summer Olympics." The IOC said "it was confident that FIFA would hold talks with them to avoid a clash" (PA, 9/19).
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