Qatar World Cup Rescheduling Leaves Soccer Clubs Wanting FundsAlex Duff
Europe’s top soccer leagues said a plan to reschedule the 2022 World Cup to avoid the heat of Qatar’s summer should include compensation for teams because it undercuts their competitions.
A committee appointed by FIFA, the sport’s governing body, today recommended that the 2022 tournament be shortened and held in November and December to avoid temperatures that rise higher than above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
The European Club Association, the region’s association of professional leagues and England’s Premier League all came out after the decision was announced to push for other options for changing the dates of sport’s most watched tournament.
“It is clear that the views of the European leagues, along with the numerous other competitions globally that will be negatively affected, have not been given serious consideration,” Premier League Chief Executive Officer Richard Scudamore said in an e-mailed statement. “The prevailing view from the leagues has been that displacing the 2022 World Cup significantly from the original summer dates disproportionately impacts the sporting integrity of our competitions.”
The English league will receive 5.14 billion pounds ($7.9 billion) from Sky Plc and BT Group Plc -- a 70 percent increase from the last three-year cycle -- to show 168 live games per season in the U.K. from the 2016-17 campaign.
The FIFA panel said a November start was “the most viable” for the World Cup, according to a statement on the body’s website. European soccer leagues want a May tournament. Normally, the World Cup is held in June and July, but the heat in Qatar could pose a health risk for players and fans.
The FIFA task force said there should be fewer competition days and the Confederations Cup, a 2021 warm-up tournament, should be held in another country. FIFA’s executive committee will discuss the proposals on March 19 and 20.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the chairman of the committee, said in the statement it was “a challenging task” to find a compromise, although it believed it had found a solution that could work for all parties.
A November-December tournament would disrupt the English Premier League, where dozens of national team players are based. The Association of European Professional Football Leagues said in a statement it would cause “great damage” to schedules. The end-of-year slot is best because the temperature from May to September in Qatar is “consistently hot,” the committee said.
FIFA executives picked Qatar as host ahead of Australia, Japan and South Korea and the U.S., even after an evaluation report by the ruling body’s officials that said it was a “potential health risk” for players for matches to be held there in June and July.
The EPFL said it is still backing a May event, and said its proposal will be among those submitted to FIFA’s executive committee in March.
“This proposal has been structured on a fact-based study which is totally acceptable from the meteorological point of view by providing reasonable climatic conditions with regard to both players and fans,” the EPFL said in an e-mailed statement.
FIFA’s ethics committee said in November there were indications of “potential illegal or irregular conduct” in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively but not enough evidence of wrongdoing to hold the 2010 vote again.
Trains, Air Conditioning
Qatar plans to spend more than $200 billion on infrastructure, including a rail and metro network and $9 billion on stadiums. Organizers have said temperatures could be mitigated by air conditioning systems in stadiums, although they are willing to change the dates.
The FIFA Club World Cup, an annual tournament involving continental champions, could be switched to Qatar in November and December 2021 to serve as a test event, the panel said in the statement.