FIFA has said it won’t make a decision on when the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played until at least next year. There are concerns that the summer heat there would be unbearable for the players and fans.
FIFA President Joseph Blatter announced on Friday that football's governing body would take its time to study the idea of moving the 2022 World Cup, which is traditionally held in June, to the winter months to avoid the summer heat in Qatar.
"The executive committee decided to launch a consultation process among main stakeholders for Qatar 2022 dates," Blatter said via the microblogging website Twitter. "No decision will be taken before 2014 WC (World Cup)."
One member of FIFA's executive committee, Michel D'Hooghe told the Associated Press that the decision could come even later.
"At the earliest in 2015," D'Hooghe said. "We will consult everyone in the football family. To have some concrete information, this will not be done in two days."
"We have two World Cups before Qatar where we also have concerns," added D'Hooghe, who also chairs FIFA's medical committee.
Ever since Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, critics have voiced the concern that the conditions would be too hot not just for the players, but also for the fans. FIFA and the Qatar organizers have failed to completely overcome these concerns, despite a plan to build air-conditioned stadiums.
Back in July, Blatter had said he planned to recommend that the executive committee vote to move the tournament to a cooler time of the year. However, this could also create problems for European leagues, disrupting their domestic seasons.
Last month, Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, speaking in his capacity as president of the European Clubs Association suggested that with the event nine years off, FIFA could take its time in reaching a decision.
Concerns of Qatar labor conditions
Blatter used a press conference on Friday to give his first public reaction to a story published in Britain's Guardian newspaper last week, which included claims from Nepalese nationals working on World Cup infrastructure projects that they were being treated like slaves.
Among other things, the report included claims that the workers had had their passports taken away and that they hadn't been paid for months. Some even said they had been denied access to drinking water despite Qatar's blistering summer heat.
"We should also say that workers' rights are the responsibility for Qatar and the companies, there are many European companies working there and these are also responsible for the conditions of workers; it's not FIFA's responsibility but we can't turn a blind eye," Blatter said. "This intervention can only be carried out by Qatar itself and they have confirmed they will do so."
Qatari officials have rejected the Guardian report, saying the claims are "exaggerated."
pfd/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, SID)