Europe’s top football clubs are set to green light a proposed switch in the 2022 Qatar World Cup from summer to winter, it was reported, but only if they receive assurances that the change is a one-off.
The European Clubs’ Association (ECA) is to meet today in Switzerland for talks over moving the tournament due to extreme temperatures in the Gulf state, with bosses at the continent’s top sides said to be resigned to the change.
Any move in the event to the winter would be hugely disruptive to Europe’s domestic football leagues, which typically have a hectic playing schedule around that time.
“I have a personal opinion that it is almost inevitable. We will have to find a solution because it is very unlikely that you can play the World Cup in Qatar in the summer,” ECA senior vice president Umberto Gandini told Press Association Sport. “I think it’s important it’s going to be a one-off and is not going to something that’s going to be there forever.”
Gandini added that the World Cup would be “impossible” for fans to follow during Qatar’s summer heat, where temperatures soar up to 50 degrees Celsius. “Now it is a matter of studying the possible solutions and we will have to do it.”
Earlier this week FIFA president Sepp Blatter admitted that a mistake may have been made when the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
In an interview published on Monday, Blatter defended his decision that the tournament should be played in the winter when it is held in the Gulf state.
Asked whether FIFA already knew that a summer World Cup would be impossible when it awarded the tournament on December 10 2010, Blatter said: "That may well be so, and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time. On the other hand, you must also consider political and geo-political realities."
He added that while the switch would inconvenience the major European leagues, it was "high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in faraway places".
He said in comments published by insideworldfootball.com: "We must accept that football has moved away from being a European and South American sport: it has become the World Sport that billions of fans are excitedly following every week, everywhere in the world."
"The loudest critics, the ones who should know better because they signed the exact same bidding documents as Qatar did... must know that point 1.2.1 stipulates that the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup is 'scheduled to take place' in June and/or July 'in principle'," he was quoted as saying.
"It does not say that it 'must' take place in these months, nor is it a 'condition sine qua non' to host the World Cup in June and July. What the document does is express FIFA's wish to host the World Cup in June or July," he added.