Premier League chairman, Sir David Richards, said it would make “common sense” for the Qatar 2022 World Cup to be switched from a summer tournament to a winter one, promoting his management to issue a statement contradicting the position of its own chairman.
Speaking at the Securing Sport conference in Doha, the outgoing chairman said while there are currently no plans to switch to the tournament to a winter event, he hoped there would be some compromise in the future.
“At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe. For us, at this minute, the answer is ‘no’. But, if we take a proper view, we have to find a way to have a winter spell where we don’t play and I think common sense will prevail," said Richards.
“We’ve got FIFA now saying that medical people are saying that they can't play in Qatar in the summer because of the heat, which is probably right. Over the next few years, things will change and they will come to a compromise,” he said.
Not for the first time, the Premier League was forced to release a statement opposing its chairman.
“The Premier League’s view remains unchanged. We are opposed to the concept of a winter World Cup for very obvious practical reasons that would impact on all of European domestic football,” a spokesperson said.
Debate over whether Qatar should stick to the traditional slot of June for a World Cup or consider a shift to the winter months has been ongoing ever since the Gulf state became the surprise winner of a December 2010 FIFA vote to choose the 2022 host country.
Last week FIFA’s medical, Michel D'Hooghe, weighed in on the argument, saying he was concerned about the impact soaring summer temperatures would have on the players.
“Personally, I think it would be a good thing if we could play this World Cup in better temperatures than in full summer in Qatar,” he said.
Moving the tournament would meet with fierce resistance from European leagues who fear the impact on their broadcasting and commercial deals and clubs would be reluctant to release players.
Countries that lost out to Qatar, including the US and Australia, could also look to challenge the move in the courts.