FIFA open to 2022 Qatar World Cup moving to winter

FIFA believes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be moved to

winter if medical evidence showed that playing in the intense

summer heat would be dangerous.

FIFA has previously insisted that Qatar would have to make the

request to move the tournament, while the tiny emirate has placed

responsibility on world soccer governing body to make the call.

In a sign that the impasse could be ending, FIFA General

Secretary Jerome Valcke said the executive committee could decide

on the shift to winter if the June temperatures, which can exceed

104 degrees, are deemed dangerous.

”Maybe the FIFA Ex-Co will say based on medical report or

whatever we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in

summer but in winter,” Valcke said Saturday after a meeting of

soccer’s rule-makers.

”As long as we have not fixed the international calendar, all

alternatives are open,” he added. ”It’s in 2022, nine years and

we have two World Cups to organize in Brazil and Russia. So there

is some time.”

Valcke said moving the tournament would not open up FIFA to

legal challenges from the United States, Japan, South Korea and

Australia, who lost out to Qatar in the 2010 vote.

”Would you think we would open a discussion if we are not sure

there would be no legal challenge to do so?” Valcke said.

While Qatar unexpectedly landed the 2022 showpiece tournament

with plans for air-conditioned stadiums, FIFA President Sepp

Blatter has acknowledged that fans could struggle to cope with the

heat away outside the venues in June.

UEFA President Michel Platini favors a move to the cooler winter

months, telling German newspaper Bild on Saturday that the summer

heat would be ”unbearable” for fans and players.

But the European soccer chief’s view is opposed by Jeffrey Webb,

president of CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central

America and the Caribbean.

”Historically, the World Cup is always played in June and I

would definitely like the World Cup to be played in June, we

accepted it,” Webb said. ”We went through a long process

regarding that.”

Moving the World Cup to winter would interrupt the European club

season, and the Premier League is opposed to it.

”As long as we have not fixed the international calendar (for

2019 to `22) all alternatives are open,” Valcke said.

”The most important thing is to make sure (we) work with all

stakeholders and make sure there is full agreement with all

parties, leagues, clubs, and we would have to find eight weeks in

the mid-season to play the World Cup.”

Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris