KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING
—– The man who first flagged up for FIFA the climatic complications of taking the World Cup finals to Qatar 2022 may just have come up with the answers to an increasingly confused controversy.
A technical study group assessed all nine 2018 and 2022 bids ahead of the controversial vote in December 2010. Its leader was the then Chilean federation president, Harold Mayne-Nicholls.
Now – in an exclusive interview published in the new, April edition of World Soccer – Mayne-Nicholls has responded to UEFA president Michel Platini’s campaign to switch Qatar 2022 to winter (which means November and December).
Indeed, so successful has been Platini’s largely one-man campaign – which would disrupt Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues – that FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke has indirectly offered his fellow Frenchman a glimpse of a strategy to achieve his aim.
Platini has made no secret of the fact that he voted for Qatar but that he wanted to see the Gulf state spread matches around neighbouring states.
Platini launched his demand for a winter World Cup, never mind the Qataris’ air-cooling promises, little more than a month than the decisive vote within the FIFA executive committee.
This was no surprise to Mayne-Nicholls. In the original technical report he and his team had noted the risks of the climate (“a potential health risk for players, officials, the FIFA family and spectators”).
Mayne-Nicholls told me: “Of course, in the report we raised the climate issue, not only in the Qatar bid but in each of the nine. It was written there and all the exco members knew about it.
“I understand that the change/date issue is not easy. You need at 21 days before the tournament to prepare the team, 31 days for the tournament; then seven more days after it finishes.
“Any suspension would have some issues to solve: contractual situation with TV rights; players’ holidays; transfer period; season-ticket holders; salaries and bonus etc.
“So . . . let us play a night-time schedule, when the temperatures have eased, with no day games. I propose the following timetable for the first round of 17.55 (Qatari time) for the first game of the day, 20.55 for the second game and 23.55 for the third.”
The only snag Mayne-Nicholls can envisage is that spectators and tourist will need to adapt their lifestyle and “live” during the night and sleep during the day. But then, many fans at a World Cup do that anyway.
THE FULL INTERVIEW: World Soccer April edition now on sale
# # # # # # #