European clubs have on Tuesday urged caution ahead of a decision on whether to shift the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the northern hemisphere’s winter. FIFA is set to meet in October to discuss rescheduling the tournament.
At the heart of the debate is the searing temperatures likely in Qatar in June and July - the months the World Cup is traditionally held. Moving the tournament to the cooler months in the Western Asian nation is likely to play havoc with a host of club competitions, however, and the European Club Association (ECA) has asked for input in discussions.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter raised the prospect of a final decision on the timing of the 2022 World Cup when the sport's governing body meets on October 3 and 4, while the switch has received support from UEFA President Michel Platini.
But ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes there should be “no hurry” on setting it in stone.
Also the chairman of Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich, Rummenigge said UEFA's executive committee will determine its position on the issue when it meets in Croatia on September 19.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wants FIFA to consider all angles in their decision on the timing of the 2022 World Cup.
"I personally believe there is no hurry and I don't understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October," Rummenigge, speaking in his ECA capacity, told a press conference on Tuesday. "I think that nine years is more than enough to do this very sensibly and prudently, in the best interests of football."
Rummenigge said that any changes should involve all the major stakeholders, pointing to the financial implications for clubs that are usually midway through their domestic seasons in the northern hemisphere's winter.
"If there is a change, the clubs, the leagues, the associations and the players have the right to be heard and to discuss the best solution with FIFA concerning a change for the World Cup."
His statements echoed that of the European Professional Football Leagues, who said via statement on Tuesday that “such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines.”
Shock Blatter admission
On the decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar, Blatter said on Monday that “it may well be that we made a mistake at the time.”
But he did state that holding the World Cup in June and July was only set "in principle," and that there needed to be leeway in order to ensure the tournament was taken to all corners of the earth.
"If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a FIFA World Cup can never be played in countries that are south of the equator or indeed near the equator," he said from the International Olympic Committee's general assembly in Buenos Aires. "We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than we do in Europe."
Responding to Blatter's comments, Rummenigge said: "I believe everybody was a bit surprised.´But I don't know if it was a mistake, because the policy of FIFA was always to bring the World Cup to different continents.”
ph/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)