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Wed 24 Jul 2013 04:40 PM

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Qatar 2022 award was 'blatant mistake' - FIFA member

Executive committee member Theo Zwanziger says winter switch would be a big problem

Qatar 2022 award was 'blatant mistake' - FIFA member
An aerial view of a 45,000 capacity stadium located in Al Wakrah in the south of Qatar.

Awarding the 2022 soccer World Cup to Qatar's desert state was a "blatant mistake" FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said on Wednesday, adding that staging the tournament in winter would be just as big a problem.

German Zwanziger's attack on the decision to give the tiny energy-rich Gulf state the world's biggest single sports event comes after FIFA president Sepp Blatter repeated his view that the finals could not be played in the traditional summer slot.

"It was a blatant mistake," Zwanziger, formerly head of the German football federation (DfB) told Sportbild magazine, referring to the decision taken by world soccer's governing body in December 2010.

Zwanziger, who joined the FIFA executive the following year, also said shifting the tournament to the winter months would put the unity of German football in danger.

"Changing the World Cup to the winter is going deep into the structures of European national federations and also amateur football in Germany."

"A change in playing schedules does not only affect the Bundesliga but continues affecting lower divisions due to the link with promotion and relegation. The game pyramid is in danger and so is the unity of German football."

Moving the World Cup to the winter would have a seismic effect on soccer scheduling in Europe.

Many leagues outside Britain have a winter break but would need a hiatus of at least six weeks to accommodate national teams preparing for, and playing at, the World Cup finals.

The English Premier League, despite not having a winter break, has repeatedly voiced its strong disagreement with moving the tournament to the winter months.

"A winter World Cup would mean public viewing with ice skating boots in freezing temperatures," said Zwanziger.

"If the decision was really a mistake it should be lifted and should not become an even bigger burden for those who are not involved by changing it to the winter."

Moving the World Cup to January or February would also have an impact on attendances and television viewing figures for other sporting events like the Australian Open tennis tournament, skiing and the Winter Olympics.

Blatter said a month after the decision was taken that he expected the tournament to be moved to the winter. Last week he said a summer World Cup in Qatar was out of the question.

Temperatures in Qatar in June and July regularly hit 40C (104f) or higher with 45C (113f) recorded last month.

"You can cool down the stadiums but you can't cool down the whole country and you can't simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup," Blatter told a conference in Austria.

"The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup."

Blatter had previously stressed that any request to change the timing of the 2022 World Cup would have to come from the organisers but said last week that the FIFA executive committee would meet to discuss the issue in October.

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ziad usman 7 years ago

Hey why such hue and cry, why because it's the first such event in Gulf. If summer is a problem for the European states, winter is also a problem for the Arab states playing football.
Let the show go on!!!

RAH 7 years ago

Is there no end to this ridiculous argument?

People are starving in Africa, the Arabs are fighting against each other, Europe is struggling to finance States in deep debts and the US is grappling with a huge deficit and a recession that refuses to end. And this guy is worried about German football unity? Petty, stupid and not worth reporting his comments, tbh.

Fifa gave it to Doha and that's that! Plan accordingly around that decision and let us move on.

Paul 7 years ago

Honestly, did anybody think that the world cup could be successful in Doha (the only city in the tiny desert peninsula with already congested and chaotic traffic) at any given time (the respect for the local culture is not compatible with the world cup culture), not to mention in the highly humid and extreme hot Qatari desert summer?

procan 7 years ago

The whole Qatar 2020 World Cup is coming undone .

Peter 7 years ago

Qatar may build, may buy, may influence with its wealth but until Qatar imposes on their visitors too many restrictions on how they can live their lives (no single couple is allowed to share a hotel room, just a tiny example), it won’t be ready to host a World Cup.
In other words, it would have required a major cultural revolution for Qatar to be ready to embrace the world cup as it is with no limitations, and that will not happen in 9 years. The required cultural shift will take centuries.