Another week, another comment from a world football luminary giving his opinion on the World Cup in 2022, which was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
This time, it’s Greg Dyke, the erstwhile director general of the BBC, and the current chairman of Britain’s Football Association (FA).
His words in full: “Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans.
"I think football is a winter game, that the public greatly enjoy their football through the winter and that we should think very carefully before we take football away from the public in the winter."
Dyke’s comments are just the latest on a topic on which it seems everyone has an opinion. These include: UEFA’s Michel Platini (who wants the tournament to be held in winter), the English Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore (summer), EPL chairman Sir David Richards (winter, bizarrely), the Bundesliga’s Christian Seifert (summer), former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (winter), and Qatar bid representative Ronald de Boer (winter, which might have cost him a small fee).
Theo Zwanziger, a new member of FIFA’s executive committee – the organisation that made the award to Qatar – recently said the whole idea of giving the World Cup to the Gulf state was “a blatant mistake”.
Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, of course, but this constant speculation does no-one (apart from perhaps the media) any good. The worst comment of all came from Sepp Blatter himself, FIFA’s president, who said in July he would try to push the tournament to the winter.
Why on earth has it taken so long (not far off three years) to make this decision? The fact that Qatar’s climate is a trifle warm in the summer months isn’t exactly news, and for those elderly FIFA executive members who may not have been aware of the country’s geography, the bid clearly set out how Qatar would attempt to combat the heat.
If FIFA wants to shift the tournament to a different season, then by all means, go ahead, take the vote, make a decision and then stick to it. For the Qataris, who seem to have no say on timing, the constant back-and-forth must be a source of immense frustration, particularly as some reports seem to imply that the whole decision could be reversed.
Ultimately, whether the World Cup is held in the summer or winter makes no difference to Qatar’s infrastructure plans. But the fact that FIFA has continuously dragged its heels over a decision that should have been made back in 2010 does no credit to an organisation already saddled with bad press, while simultaneously contributing to the argument that it made the wrong decision in the first place.