MIAMI - A member of FIFA's executive
committee criticised talk of moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
to winter and said he believes the idea was floated informally
even before votes on the host nation for the tournament.
Chuck Blazer, who represents the United States, second in
December's bid vote behind Qatar, warned that switching the
event to winter may take 10 weeks out of the international club
season and would "upset the entire football world."
Since the vote there have been suggestions from leading
figures in the game that the tournament should be switched to
January rather than June or July to avoid the intense heat in
the summer months of the Gulf state.
"If you look at the timing of some of these announcements;
pronouncements immediately after the vote from (Franz)
Beckenbauer and (Michel) Platini and everyone else one after
another, I am sure that these were ideas that had been
discussed before," Blazer told Reuters in an interview on
Australia, Japan and South Korea also bid for the 2022
tournament losing out to a heavily-financed campaign from the
tiny but wealthy Arab country.
"The issue of the heat trouble were never addressed by the
candidate... there was a certain incongruity to me that there
are people who are really dedicated to their teams and to the
sport who were not having any difficulty with the idea of
playing in that level of heat on an ongoing basis throughout
the tournament," said Blazer.
"They very quickly, after the fact, made these statements
saying 'oh yeah let's just switch.' I have some level of
difficulty with that."
The American said that the change would run contrary to
FIFA's international calendar which took years to establish and
would have a major impact on domestic football.
"This isn't a matter of taking four weeks out of the winter
and saying here is the World Cup. It is more a matter, at that
point, of taking 10 weeks out of the winter and saying here, we
are carving out an entire new summer in order to have proper
preparation for the teams." Blazer said.
"The ultimate damage that we would be doing isn't something
that should be done without due consideration."
The World Cups are traditionally held during the northern
hemisphere's summer months after the end of the domestic league
Some in the U.S. media have called for a re-vote on the
bidding process if the tournament is moved from its traditional
June or July slot but Blazer said he was merely calling for
wide consultation before making any change.
"If the thought is to move it to winter, we should do a
careful analysis involving all the stakeholders, clubs,
leagues, coaches, players, everyone and sit down and figure out
what is the best thing to do because moving it to winter has
serious ramifications," said Blazer.
FIFA's own bid evaluation report, carried out by experts
who visited the proposed venues, stated in November that
playing in Qatar in the summer months was a potential health
risk but Blazer said no attention was paid to those findings.
"I think the process where we send people out to each of
the venues, to do a comprehensive report and they come back and
present that report and nobody asks any questions about it and
nobody spends any time dealing with the issues of the report,
certainly sells the reports short, or even ourselves short," he
said, adding that reform of the process should be on the
"Somehow we have to be certain that we take matters like
that seriously into consideration, I'm not sure how we go about
doing that - maybe the inspection gets a certain amount of
weight, maybe votes get another weight. I don't know, but we
have got eight years to figure that out... before we vote on
2026," he said.
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