Thu, Mar 19, 2015 - Page 18 News List

World Cup dates to spawn new battles

COMPENSATION:Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas said if FIFA fails to follow UEFA’s lead, ‘you can expect an extremely virulent reaction from the ECA’

AFP, ZURICH, Switzerland

Qatar 2022 World Cup organizing committee chairman Hassan al-Thawadi, left, and FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke give a news conference in Doha on Feb. 25 to defend the proposal to shift the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.

Photo: AFP

FIFA’s executive committee are set to decide the definitive winter dates for the 2022 World Cup finals at a meeting starting today, knowing that their ruling is likely to ignite new battles over the controversial tournament in Qatar.

European clubs are demanding compensation over the change in season from a traditional summer tournament, a bitter row over corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids has not been laid to rest and the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar remains a worry for FIFA chiefs.

The executive committee’s two-day meeting in Zurich is to decide the firm dates of the tournament as well as whether South Korea or France will host the women’s World Cup in 2019.

Moving the world’s most watched sporting event to the northern hemisphere winter has opened new divisions.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the tournament will not run until after Dec. 18 in a bid to reassure the English Premier League, which feared a clash with their packed Christmas program.

However, top European clubs want hundreds of millions of US dollars in compensation for the disruption to their cash-rich championships, which contributed about three-quarters of the players who appeared at the World Cup in Brazil last year.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also heads the European Club Association (ECA), said championships around the globe will be disrupted by the winter World Cup revolution, which will force a break in championships.

While the former West Germany international striker said that everyone would have to compromise, he added: “The European clubs and leagues cannot be expected to bear the costs for such rescheduling. We expect the clubs to be compensated for the damage that a final decision would cause.”

Blatter, who will seek a fifth term as FIFA president in May, said compensation is not justified.

However, FIFA paid out US$70 million to about 400, mainly European, clubs following the World Cup last year and this could be substantially increased for 2022.

UEFA is already promising 150 million euros (US$170 million) for clubs whose players are on duty at the European championships in France next year.

“We have got compensation from UEFA for its competitions. If we don’t get the same thing from FIFA you can expect an extremely virulent reaction from the ECA,” Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas said.

Other federations around the world could follow the European example and demand cash. FIFA has substantial reserves, revenues of US$4.5 billion are expected to be announced for the last four years, but the bill for 2022 could rise.

The meeting is also likely to have an extra layer of tension because of the presidential election, which is to take place on May 29.

This meeting will be the first chaired by Blatter since FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein announced he would stand against the Swiss veteran. Portuguese football legend Figo and Dutch football chief Michael van Praag are also standing.

Blatter remains the firm favorite, but his rivals are furiously lobbying for support.

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