A leading FIFA official has given the biggest hint yet that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup won’t take place in the summer, and will, in fact, be held in the winter because of the country’s heat.
FIFA’s second in command, Jérôme Valcke, who works as the organization’s secretary general, revealed in a French radio interview that the tournament will probably take place between mid-November 2022 and January 2023.
Valcke asserted, “The dates for the World Cup will not be June-July.” He then added, “If you play between 15 November and the end of December that’s the time when the weather conditions are best — when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging 25 degrees [77 degrees Fahrenheit]. That would be perfect for playing football.”
However, FIFA immediately looked to distance themselves from Valcke’s comments, releasing their own statement that confirmed that there had been no decision over the event’s start date and that Valcke was only expressing his own opinion:
The precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community – Fifa confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players – as well as Fifa’s commercial partners.
The consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision. No decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil as agreed by the Fifa executive committee.
Qatar’s officials are still hopefully that the tournament will take place in June and July, which is when the World Cup is usually held. However, Sepp Blatter, the controversial president of FIFA, has already remarked that it will more than likely occur in November or December.
In response, the Qatar 2022 Supreme committee confirmed that whatever the result, the country “will be ready to host the World Cup regardless of the outcome of the consultation.”
Jim Boyce, who is FIFA’s vice-president, admitted that he was “totally surprised” by Valcke’s outburst, before confirming that it had been made without any consultation from the executive committee.
The resistance to hold the World Cup in winter comes mostly from European leagues. The English Premier League and various other top leagues from Germany, Italy and Spain have taken umbrage with the fact that they will have to hold a midseason break to accommodate the competition’s move.
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