UEFA President Michel Platini Accuses Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke Of Disrespecting FIFA
The row at FIFA over the timing of the 2022 World Cup "intensified on Thursday" after UEFA President Michel Platini accused FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke of "disrespecting their own executive committee," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. Platini condemned Blatter and Valcke for their "repeated public pronouncements indicating the tournament in Qatar would be moved to November or December." Platini: "When the executive committee was held in early October, it was decided to launch a major consultation of all football and no decision would be taken before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It was agreed not to talk about this before then" (TELEGRAPH, 1/9).
HESITATION DAMAGING IMAGE: FOX SPORTS' Simon Hill opined FIFA "may well be distancing itself" from Valcke's comments, but "be in no doubt, this is a fait accomplis." So, accepting that "by this time next year, the football calendar has been reorganised completely," that broadcasters (particularly in the U.S.) have been "assuaged, and that legal challenges have been brushed aside, where does that leave the game, the governing body, and, most pertinently, football in this country?" Significantly "weakened on all fronts if you ask me." What FIFA has "never understood is the impact these inexplicable decisions have on countries where football is not the number one passion." If only they could "spend a few months here, getting to know the very different sporting landscape of a country like Australia." Perhaps then they would "understood the damage this does to the image of a game" we describe as "beautiful," but which has "shown itself to be very ugly indeed, in the way it has fragrantly disregarded its own protocol in the World Cup decision-making process" (FOX SPORTS, 1/9). The AP reported "rather than ending the ongoing confusion about exactly which month the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held, attempts by FIFA to clarify the issue -- and they come regularly -- tend only to muddy the picture." One minute a "consultation process is being established to talk to leagues and federations; the next a FIFA executive is blurting out his beliefs, sending the media into chaos anew." It has become "widely accepted, except maybe in Qatar, that holding football's biggest tournament in the desert Gulf nation during the searing summer months poses a potential health risk." Even FIFA's inspection team "ahead of the vote highlighted possible dangers to fans and officials who travel around the tiny country away from air-conditioned stadiums" (AP, 1/10).
TEBAS CHIMES IN: In Madrid, Luis Martín reported Spanish Football League President Javier Tebas said of holding the World Cup during the winter, "I do not like stopping competition, in this case La Liga, but since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, we knew this was going to happen, so we should look for solutions." In "regards to whether he was surprised by what Valcke said," Tebas said, "It is no surprise. We need everyone's effort, but it does not seem excessively serious to me, it is not overly dramatic" (EL PAIS, 1/8).