Sat, Jul 20, 2013 - Page 18 News List

EPL chiefs criticize Blatter’s plan for winter World Cup

AFP, LONDON

English Premier League (EPL) chiefs have slammed FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s plan to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter.

There has been widespread concern over the health dangers posed by staging the tournament in the Gulf in June and July, where temperatures rocket to 50oC, and Blatter this week confronted the issue by stating he believed the tournament could not take place in the summer.

That position has been backed up by the international players’ union, FIFPro.

Blatter insisted he would push to have the World Cup moved, despite the effects it could have on domestic leagues when the FIFA Executive Committee meets on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4.

“The Executive Committee will certainly follow me,” he was quoted as saying. “It is clear that you cannot play in this heat in the summer and we have to consider the players.”

However, Premier League bosses have been vocal opponents of the winter idea on the grounds it would cause major disruption to three domestic seasons, the 2021-2022 season and the ones either side, as well as impacting on broadcasting contracts.

Blatter’s latest comments drew a scathing response from the organization on Thursday.

“The Premier League position remains unchanged. The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football,” a Premier League spokesman said.

Qatar plans to spend about US$101 billion on infrastructure projects, including building new high-tech stadiums, which the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said would likely cost US$4 billion to US$5 billion.

However, average temperatures in Qatar are markedly cooler in December, with highs of 24oC and lows of 15oC, and UEFA general-secretary Gianni Infantino recently added his weight to calls for the 2022 World Cup to be staged later in the year.

“I fully share the view that you have to play in the best period for football — that is not June or July in Qatar. This is an issue that FIFA has to sort out,” he said.

Qatar, who won their World Cup hosting bid three years ago, has already said it is ready to stage the tournament in summer or winter.

“Various figures from the world of football have raised preferences for hosting in the winter,” the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement earlier this year.

“We are ready to host the World Cup in summer or winter. Our planning isn’t affected either way,” the committee said.

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