Shifting sands: FIFA’s changing approach to Qatar

The FIFA executive committee led by President Sepp Blatter on
Friday will discuss if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should move from
its traditional June-July dates.

Qatar was chosen on Dec. 2, 2010 by FIFA’s ruling committee
despite warnings for players’ and fans’ health in the desert heat.
Since then, Qatari officials have insisted they can host football’s
greatest event in summer by developing air-cooling technology.

This is what world football leaders have said about the issue
over the past three years:

”The invitation to tender was to play this World Cup in June,
and that’s how it was done and countries replied on this basis.” –
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, Dec. 6 2010, at a news
conference in Paris.

”Play when the climate is appropriate, and I’m thinking about
the footballers, not only the fans but the actors. Personally I
think it would be better that it is played in the winter … but
it’s not easy to realize.” – FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Dec. 17,
2010, at a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

”Everything is settled for summer. I am not in favor of one or
the other.” – Blatter, Feb. 7, 2011, in an interview with the
BBC.

”In the bidding documents it was clearly established that the
executive committee reserved the right to change anything in the
bidding process, but here in this case it must come from Qatar.” –
Blatter, Feb. 7, 2011, to the BBC.

”Would you think we would open a discussion if we are not sure
there would be no legal challenge to do so?” – Valcke, March 2,
2013, to reporters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

”From a medical point of view, I can say we are concerned. The
public that has to move from city to city and that has to live in
temperatures that are very elevated.” – Michel D’Hooghe, FIFA
board member and medical committee chairman, March 15, 2013, in an
interview with The Associated Press in Knokke, Belgium.

”As it stands today, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is planned to be
staged in Qatar in June-July 2022. As communicated earlier, any
potential change would have to be first requested by the
competition organizers, i.e. Qatar, and then presented to the FIFA
Executive Committee for analysis.” – FIFA statement, March 21,
2013.

”It’s not rational or reasonable to play in June-July.” –
Blatter, May 15, 2013, in an interview with French sports daily
L’Equipe.

”We have to protect our partners, our commercial partners, our
TV partners. We have to be tough on this.” – Blatter, July 17,
2013, at an event for Franz Beckenbauer in Going, Austria.

”I would be very much surprised, more than surprised, if the
ExCo (FIFA executive committee) will not accept the principle you
cannot play in summer in Qatar.” – Blatter, Aug. 25, 2013, in an
interview with The Associated Press at Ulrichen, Switzerland.

”If the international football community reaches a consensus to
move the event to an alternate date, we are able to accommodate
that change.” – Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, Oct. 2, 2013.