KEIR RADNEDGE in EDINBURGH: Michel Platini was advised, indirectly, today how to force a rescheduling of the 2022 World Cup finals from summer to winter.
UEFA’s French president has never made any secret of the fact that he voted for the Gulf state in the controversial election staged amid the FIFA executive committee on December 1, 2010.
Ever since the following month, however, he has insisted loudly that the finals should be staged in the winter to spare players and fans the searing summer temperatures. Platini repeated his stance in an interview published only today with Germany’s Bild.
The Qatar organisers have said that any date-change decision should come from the world federation by 2015 at the latest.
FIFA had always responded that it was up to the Qataris to request a switch. But secretary-general Jerome Valcke, asked for clarification after the law-making IFAB annual meeting here today, provided a subtle shift of position.
Change of dates
He offered Platini, who is also a FIFA vice-president, a possible helping hand by suggesting that if FIFA were confronted, formally, with serious medical concerns, then the exco might take the initiative over a change of dates.
Valcke said: “It’s strange that we are talking and talking about this issue when we know that the people who have to ask the first question are from Qatar itself.
“Qatar has to tell us: ‘We want to move the World Cup from summer to winter.’ But as long as Qatar is not coming to FIFA then FIFA cannot make a decision. Qatar is aware of the situation and that if they want to move the World Cup from June to a December/January period they have to send a request.
“There is no working group within FIFA thinking and working on what it means to move the World Cup from summer to winter for the time being.”
However, Valcke then pushed open the door to change by adding: “The international calendar has been agreed for 2015-2018, meaning that we kept open all potential [change] for period 2019 to 2022. We have time.
“For sure, FIFA could always say: ‘Guys, we definitely think there is a risk to play the World Cup in summer and we are asking you to think about moving the World Cup,’ but – for the time being – there is one confederation, Michel [Platini’s UEFA], saying it must be played in winter. The other members of FIFA are not saying that.
“The FIFA exco has the power to make decisions and if, at the FIFA exco, this issue starts to be a real point for discussion . . . then maybe the FIFA exco will say: ‘Based on medical report or whatever we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter.’
“I am not saying that the case is closed but what I’m saying is as long as long as we have not fixed the international calendar all alternatives are open.”
Valcke, who concluded by insisting that FIFA would ensure it was legally watertight in sanctioning a switch, concluded by issuing an appeal for a settlement one way or the other.
He said: “I think it would be good to have a final decision about when this World Cup will be played and have an agreement between all the football family – but it’s in 2022, nine years away, so there is some time.”
Time enough, that is, for Platini to pull all the medical evidence together.
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