Ski boss worried about moving 2022 WCup to January

As FIFA’s ruling board prepares to debate switching the 2022
World Cup dates in Qatar, skiing’s top official warned a switch
could weaken interest in winter sports ahead of that year’s
Olympics.

International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper told
The Associated Press on Wednesday he is ”getting worried” that
FIFA is pushing to move the World Cup from its traditional
June-July dates in the crowded world sports calendar because of the
summer heat in Qatar.

”It would be only fair within sports federations to respect
each other,” Kasper, an IOC member from Switzerland who has served
on the coordination commission of each Winter Games since the 2002
Salt Lake City Olympics.

A January tournament in Qatar – favored by influential European
soccer leaders – would ”kill not only most commercial sites for
the winter sports, but also for the public,” Kasper said.

On Friday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter will lead his executive
committee in talks he said should decide that the tournament cannot
be played in the Qatari summer. Agreement is unlikely, with
Blatter’s board expected to call for a working group to assess the
potential impact of change on the traditional soccer calendar.

Blatter has suggested a November kickoff in 2022, while UEFA
President Michel Platini prefers January, a month before the 2022
Winter Olympics.

”If the international football community reaches a consensus to
move the event to an alternate date, we are able to accommodate
that change,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement
Wednesday. ”Our commitment to cooling technologies will continue,
for without it certain parts of the world will be denied the right
to host such events.”

Kasper said he prefers the November date instead of January.

”If they do it in November, even December, we wouldn’t like it
but it’s something we can live with,” Kasper told The AP in an
interview. ”In January, I tell you very honestly, this is our main
season, not only for skiing, for all winter sports.”

Kasper said sports run by the seven Winter Olympics federations
would be affected by the clash for broadcasters, sponsors and
advertisers.

”They will say, `We should have less spectators on television,
why should we pay the same amounts?’ This is understandable,” he
said.

Kasper said broadcasters would struggle to cover a World Cup and
Winter Olympics back to back, even if the dates did not
overlap.

”From a marketing side and particularly from the television
networks, they could not even prepare their equipment in time in
the right place,” he said.

Competing with soccer’s World Cup could take broadcast hours and
fans’ interest away from skiing and other Olympic sports, which
rely on exposure in January to fuel interest in the Winter
Games.

”If there are big soccer games, we feel it. If (the World Cup)
would be in January then we really do, there is no question,” he
said. ”There is a saturation if you have sports for only two
months, with the soccer World Cup and then the Winter Olympics.
It’s just too much going on within a short period.

”I don’t think it’s good and I don’t understand FIFA, I don’t
think it helps themselves.”