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Sun 7 Jul 2013 09:24 AM

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FIFA chief Blatter starts tour of Middle East

President of football governing body expected to visit Qatar to discuss 2022 World Cup plans

FIFA chief Blatter starts tour of Middle East
FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The head of international football federation FIFA, Sepp Blatter, is in the Middle East for a four-day tour.

Blatter started in Jordan on Saturday, where he inaugurated two FIFA projects as part of its $1bn program to develop the sport and visited Zaatari refugee camp, where soccer is being used to distract the Syrian children from the ongoing conflict.

No further details of Blatter’s schedule have been released.

However, he is likely to visit 2022 World Cup host Qatar, which is facing controversy over vote rigging, plans to reduce the number of stadiums built, and concerns it will be too hot to play the summer tournament in the desert country.

Qatar is spending billions of dollars creating air conditioned stadiums but commentators are concerned it may not be enough.

In March, Blatter indicated it was possible the Cup could be held in winter instead of summer – a move that could lead to a legal challenge from countries that missed out on the bid, such as Australia and the US.

Blatter said a switch would only happen if the Qataris requested it.

“For there to be a change to winter it is necessary that Qatar ask for it. They have not done so yet,” he said at the time.

“And they know if they do they risk another of the 2022 candidates bringing a challenge before FIFA and the vote would have to be repeated.”

Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, UEFA president Michel Platini and German football legend Franz Beckenbauer have all proposed the tournament be switched to winter.

Richards said in March he hoped there would be some compromise.

“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," he said.

“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.

But the Premier League has opposed its chairman. 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.

“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 statement issued in March said.

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kingkong9000 6 years ago

It was a common sense that the place was too hot. Then why FIFA would give the holding right, knowing the heat, in the first place?

Why that UEFA president, Platini, would promise before the vote that there would be a change of tournament time?

The common sense now is Qatar to give up by whatever good reasons. For instance, say that, despite Platini's promise, it is not possible to change, making Platini a scapegoat. Or say that the engineering consultants had make mistakes.

Whether it is winter or summer world cup, most fans are watching on TVs. So, FIFA receives more or less the same revenue from selling TV broadcasting.

Qatari 6 years ago

If Qatar is forced to give up, someone is going to pay the price.

John Bishop 6 years ago

Blatter is an arrogant man that listens to only himself. The world cup is a joy for millions and shall not be a farce, if they are not serious about this then take it away from them, if they are then they need to get behind it and take it all the way, the clock is ticking, make your minds up!

Anon 6 years ago

This man is surely related to Berlusconi. Massively arrogant, greedy and full to the brim with ego and vanity.