US broadcaster paid world record $425m for TV rights for 2018 and 2022 events
US broadcaster Fox Sports is opposed to any proposal to re-arrange the Qatar 2022 World Cup from summer to winter, sources told the Bloomberg news agency.
Fox in 2011 agreed to pay a world record $425m for the TV rights for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, a sum which dwarfed that paid by ESPN to broadcast the 2010 and 2014 events in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
James Murdoch and other executives at the network told organiser FIFA that moving the World Cup to winter would clash with its schedule of live NFL games, a source familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
FIFA’s executive board is due to meet at the start of the October, where it is expected to recommend re-arranging the tournament due to temperatures in Qatar, which can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius during the summer.
A statement from Fox said that it had acquired the rights to broadcast World Cup games on the understanding that the tournament “would be in the summer, as they have been since the 1930s”.
FIFA in 2010 opted to award the rights to host the event to the tiny Gulf state over candidates including the US, Australia and Japan. The decision has since been dogged by controversy.
Earlier this week, the head of the Australian football association has said it would seek compensation from world governing body FIFA if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is switched to winter.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has also admitted it was a mistake to allow the event to be held in Qatar’s summer.
Qatar is expected to spend about $200bn on new infrastructure in the run-up to the event. Secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Hassan Al Thawadi has also hit back at calls by European critics that FIFA should rethink plans to hold the World Cup in the Gulf state.
Al Thawadi told the BBC there is "no reason" why Qatar should not host the event.
"We've worked very, very hard to ensure we're within the rules of the bidding, within the rules of the hosting agreement," he told BBC Sport.
"At the same time we're delivering on all the promises that we've made. We're working very hard to deliver it. The commitment is there."
"[Qatar] is the right place, the Middle East is the right place," added Al Thawadi. "We are representing the Middle East, it is a Middle Eastern World Cup, so it is the right place. The Middle East deserves to host a major tournament."