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.”