Blatter stands by summer slot for 2022 World Cup

FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted on Thursday that his

governing body has not lost control of the debate about Qatar

hosting the World Cup.

Though speculation has grown that the tournament could be moved

from its planned June-July 2022 slot to the cooler winter months,

Blatter shrugged off the idea that FIFA was being undermined.

”We are not losing control of the World Cup, being the World

Cup of 2014, 2018, 2022 or the past World Cups,” Blatter told

reporters.

Blatter said that Qatari organizers would have to ask to change

their hosting plan from the hottest months, despite recent hints by

FIFA’s top official that its ruling board – which chose the tiny

desert state – could intervene on medical advice.

Commenting on an issue that has stirred controversy long after a

vote in December 2010, Blatter told reporters: ”It has not been

put into question by FIFA’s executive committee, therefore it still

stands.

”Then all of a sudden people have realized that when playing in

summer it will be very difficult because it is very hot.”

Blatter declined to be drawn on speculated legal challenges by

rival bidders, including the United States, if Qatar’s plans

changed.

”I am not a prophet. I have not used the words that have been

reproduced somewhere,” he said.

The subject of Qatar’s World Cup drew questions, despite not

featuring on the 25-member executive committee’s two-day

agenda.

Meanwhile, committee members – missing Sri Lankan official

Vernon Manilal Fernando, who is provisionally suspended during an

ethics probe – failed to reach agreement on imposing age- and

term-limits on FIFA positions, including the presidency.

On this key element of wide-ranging governance and

anti-corruption reforms, the board compromised by asking FIFA’s

congress of 209 football countries to decide the issue on May 31 in

Mauritius.

There, FIFA nations will also be asked to create two more ruling

committee places for women, bringing the quota to three on a

27-member board. Its first female member is due to be elected at

the FIFA Congress in May.

A slate of FIFA rule changes agreed Thursday omitted several

other proposals described as ”fundamental” by Swiss law professor

Mark Pieth, who was appointed by Blatter to lead an expert group of

advisers on the reforms.

”He (Pieth) cannot say he is FIFA. He is not, he is just a

counselor,” countered FIFA board member Theo Zwanziger, a German

lawyer, after presenting the reform slate. ”Since when can a

counselor implement 100 percent of what he wants?”

Pieth’s group issued a statement urging FIFA to take control of

integrity checks on senior officials from the six continental

confederations, and ”ensure the presence of independent observers

in the FIFA ExCo meetings.”

Blatter ordered the two-year reforms program after

cash-for-votes scandals and other allegations of wrongdoing clouded

his re-election in 2011. They also overshadowed the contests which

saw Russia and Qatar chosen to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022,

respectively.

Speculation about 2022 – and if Qatar should face a re-run vote

– has flared regularly since.

”All the other rumors or information or tendencies to play when

and where, these are not relevant for FIFA’s executive committee

stand on the decision,” Blatter said.

The committee was meanwhile told to expect decisions by April 15

in a separate ethics investigation of a decade-old World Cup

kickbacks case which could implicate panel members Nicolas Leoz and

Issa Hayatou.

In other decisions, FIFA made it clear that world football wants

British football to lose its guaranteed seat on its ruling

executive committee as a vice president.

FIFA said in a statement that ”the privilege of the four

British associations to elect a vice president shall be

removed.”

Instead the seat on the executive committee will go to European

football’s governing body UEFA.

UEFA has indicated that it would support giving that position

still to a member from England, Wales, Scotland or Northern

Ireland.

FIFA also reported profits of $89 million for 2012 and has

reserves of $1.378 billion. It had revenues of $1.166 billion last

year and spending of $1.077 billion.

The football body pays no tax on commercial income from the

World Cup because of its status as a not-for-profit association in

Swiss law.

Blatter’s salary and benefits were not detailed. He was among

FIFA leaders and executives – defined as ”key management

personnel” – who shared payments totaling $33.5 million.

The other decisions included FIFA reappointing Costa Rica as

host of the Under-17 Women’s World Cup next year after receiving

new guarantees from public authorities there.