Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari, told Sky News he’s not “impressed” by FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s suggestion that the 32-team tournament be brought forward six months to avoid high summer temperatures in the desert state. He also dismissed European soccer head Michel Platini’s call for the tournament to be shared within the Gulf region.
“I’m really not very impressed by these opinions to distribute the game over the Gulf or change the time from July to January,” Bin Hamman told Sky in an interview. “It’s actually premature, you know, it’s people’s opinions and they’re just discussing it on no basis or no ground.”
Qatar, with a population of 1.2 million, was the surprise choice in December’s vote of FIFA’s 22-member executive committee. It beat out the US in a final run-off after seeing off Australia, South Korea and Japan in earlier rounds of voting.
There’s since been growing speculation about the timing of the event in a country where temperatures in June and July seldom fall below 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Bin Hammam insisted Qatar would stick to its plan to air-condition stadiums and won’t be approaching FIFA about changing the dates.
Bin Hammam said he agreed with players and club officials, who had criticized Blatter over the proposed changes, saying they had cause huge disruption to the European club program. A winter World Cup would leave leagues like those in England, Spain and Italy facing a mid-season break of about 60 days to accommodate the tournament. It would also affect the timing of the season before and after the competition.
“It is unfair to these people that we talk about changing the calendar or the time without their full consultation and their full approval and their full agreement,” he said. “I’m actually not happy to see that happening without the real stakeholders’ part of this discussion.”
Bin Hammam’s criticism comes months before Blatter is seeking re-election for a fourth presidential term. Bin Hammam, who has called for a challenger to the 74-year-old Swiss, replied “no comment” when asked whether he planned to stand.
The two-year campaign for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were overshadowed by allegations of corruption against FIFA officials. Two voters and other FIFA members were suspended in November following a corruption investigation into a report by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper that votes could be bought.
Bin Hammam, 61, said the organization needed greater transparency.
“Maybe the actual administration can do that, they have to commit themselves to doing that,” he said. “The structure is not helpful or useful for our world.”For all the latest sports news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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