K E I R R A D N E D G E R E P O R T I N G
LONDON: The latest salvo in the increasingly fraught political duel over the timing of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was issued today, with exquisite timing, by one of German football’s senior executives.
Christian Seifert, chief executive of the Bundesliga, had planned a flying visit to the temporary capital of European football long before Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund secured their places in Saturday’s Champions League Final at Wembley.
But the presence of both Seifert and his finest flagbearing clubs in London underscored the strength and influence of German football ahead of the annual congresses of both UEFA and FIFA.
The European federation meets in London on Friday when German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach is expected to be voted on to the executive committee; the world federation meets in Mauritius next week with a leading role in reform discussions falling to ex-DFB boss Theo Zwanziger.
FIFA’s award to Qatar of the 2022 World Cup has long been a source of mystery to Zwanziger who was not a member of the decision-making executive committee back in December 2010.
In London today his skepticism was echoed by Seifert who believes any attempt to switch from summer to winter would almost inevitably end up in legal action.
He conceded such action might come from western European leagues unwilling to throw their traditional seasons and multi-billion commercial deals into the air. Similarly it could come from disaffected losers in the 2018/2022 World Cup voting controversy.
Seifert said: “I am absolutely convinced that it is hard, if not impossible, to play a World Cup in the summer in Qatar.
“Maybe you can create an artificial second sky over the whole country or over the stadia but what does that mean for the people in the media who need to work there, what does that mean for the fans who are there?”
Merely switching to November and December might not be so simple.
Seifert said: “This is the crucial point – can they move to the winter without making a re-run again?
“I am not sure legally if you can just say: ‘We will just play in winter’. As far as I understand, it was an invitation to tender and I’m very sure especiallyEnglandis watching out for what happens there and I understand that.”
Asked if he thought there should be a re-vote, Seifert added: “I cannot say because I did not know the tender. At the end of the day the lawyers decide if there is a re-vote.
“I am absolutely sure if countries likeEnglandsee a chance of a re-vote they will force a re-vote.
“From other leagues I do have the feeling they are also very upset with the situation – that the decision was done and that a four-week tournament affects maybe three years of running of professional football leagues inEurope.”
Seifert also criticised FIFA for ignoring the leagues and choosingQatarin the first place. He welcomed the belated recent acknowledged by president Sepp Blatter that the summer heat would be an issue.
UEFA president Michel Platini was one of the FIFA members who voted in the first place for Qatar as 2022 host. Only after the award did Platini, the possible next president of FIFA, begin to agitate for the finals to be shifted to the winter.
The finals could move only to the end of the year. The international spring sports calendar is taken up with the Winter Olympic Games.
# # # # # # #