FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke's comments today that the '22 World Cup in Qatar "would not be played in the summer created yet more controversy" around the timing of the event, according to Mike Collett of REUTERS. Valcke said on French radio, "I think it will be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest." That led to a "shocked response" from FIFA VP Jim Boyce. He stated that only FIFA's Exec Committee "could decide when the World Cup would be played." FIFA in a statement also "appeared to backtrack saying Valcke was giving 'his view.'" Boyce: “The situation, as far as I’m aware, is that the FIFA executive committee was awaiting a report set up by all the stakeholders involved in the World Cup -- television companies, leagues, sponsors -- meeting between now and the World Cup in Brazil. The plan was that there would be no further discussion on the World Cup in Qatar until December at the end of this year." He added, “100 per cent I can confirm that the FIFA executive committee has not decided to move the World Cup" (REUTERS, 1/8). In London, Mark Cue notes a move would have a "huge impact on the sport’s calendar, with many domestic competitions around the world ... forced to move to accommodate the event." A final decision "seems unlikely ahead of this summer's World Cup in Brazil." There have been calls for the Qatar tournament "to be moved over fears about the health and safety of players and fans in the searing summer heat" (THETIMES.co.uk, 1/8).
TWITTER REAX: Valcke's remarks evoked a number of responses on Twitter. The Press Association's Martyn Ziegler wrote, "Imagine that FIFA press office gone into meltdown as Valcke shoots from the hip again." London-based football author Philippe Auclair: "Preposterous to present Valcke's view as FIFA's position." The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre: "No way Fox lets the 2022 World Cup in Qatar get played in Nov/Dec/Jan. What a cluster F." NASCAR Senior Manager of Digital & Social Media Communications Kyle Sheldon: "Shocker that FIFA is going to botch this one (plenty more to come, too)." Washington Post's Steven Goff: "Waiting for FIFA geniuses to move 2018 World Cup in Russia to Nov-Dec as well." "The Dan Patrick Show" Exec Producer Paul Pabst: "No matter the World Cup schedule...the FIFA decision makers should have to spend July 2022 in Qatar...camping out."