Winter Olympics eyes FIFA talks to avoid 2022 World Cup clash

Both events will be scheduled in the same season if Qatar moves the tournament to a winter date
By Shane McGinley
Sun 22 Sep 2013 10:07 AM

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it is “confident” FIFA will discuss with it possible plans to move the Qatar 2022 World Cup to a winter date, in order to make sure the football event does not clash with its 2022 Winter Games, a spokesperson told Arabian Business.

Qatar was awarded the hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in 2010, but concerns about temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius have plagued the Gulf state’s win and FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has admitted it was a mistake to allow the event to be held in Qatar’s summer.

FIFA is due to vote on whether to move the tournament to winter at its next meeting in October but is facing stiff opposition from football chiefs around the world.

“We were aware that FIFA might consider changing the dates for the 2022 World Cup,” and IOC spokesperson said. “We are confident that FIFA will discuss the dates with us so as to coordinate them and avoid any effect on the Winter Games.”

Earlier this month, John Blavo, a Football Association-registered lawyer and founder of the London-based Blavo & Co firm, said it was unlikely legal action would be lodged against plans to move the World Cup to a winter date and a commercial settlement was the most likely outcome.

“I think there might be more of a commercial decision in the end. The legal issue would be to do with legislative expectation of sponsors and partners who might want to advertise their brands in the summer rather than the winter.

“You have lots of players who play in UEFA [Union of European Football Associations] so there is going to be possible compensation and if they do someone has to pick the tab up and it is likely to be Qatar,” he said.

Any move to shift the event to the winter would be disruptive to Europe’s domestic football leagues, which typically have a hectic playing schedule around that time.

Blavo, who has worked with clubs, footballers and football associations for nearly a decade, said the move to a winter date would also clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, which may cause issues for the IOC and its commercial sponsors.

“In terms also other associations, the Olympics they can make a case for it as they have a Winter Olympics at the same time. If certain brands are sponsoring both it will be a big legal hurdle."

In most cases, Blavo said FIFA, the Olympics, UEFA and the football club associations would all be dealing with the same set of global sponsors and are likely to be able to thrash out a commercial solution before it gets to a courtroom.

“They might come to an arrangement but what you can’t stop is other people feeling aggrieved and they would have a strong legal argument... If it becomes a legal issue it is going to cost a lot of money and they would have a very good standing to do so.”

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. However, a FIFA spokeswoman said there were no legal grounds for compensation.

The IOC will award the hosting rights for the 2022 Winter Games at a meeting in Russia in July 2015 and the deadline for applicants to submit bids is November this year.

Despite the ongoing debate over the matter, Qatar has maintained it can host the 2022 World Cup in summer. "We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises," the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement at the weekend.

"If the international football community asks us to move the timetable for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar we are able to do so, but the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies remains an important legacy issue for our nation, region and many countries with similar climates."

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