GLASGOW: FIFA’s prospective next step in the controversy over Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup has been set out for the executive committee by Stewart Regan, Scottish FA chief executive.
Regan was among delegates of the 54 European national associations which voted unanimously in Dubrovnik last week to support the stance of president Michel Platini in shifting the finals out of the searing Gulf summer sun.
Scotland have not appeared in the finals since 1998 and continuing failures to progress have lowered their coefficient and made the qualifying challenge ever more difficult.
Hence Regan said: “We’d quite happily play the World Cup in the North Pole on Christmas Day.”
But he added: “If we were part of the qualification, we wouldn’t want our players playing football in the height of the summer. It It therefore means you’d have to consider another part of the year: potentially, a winter World Cup.
“Whether that’s at the beginning of 2022 or at the end of 202 would be subject to further discussions with our own league body.”
The issue of the timing of the 2022 World Cup is on the agenda for a meeting of FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich on October 3-4.
Regan is not one of Europe’s eight FIFA representatives but his comments suggested that the exco’s discussion had already been pre-empted.
He said: “Clearly there would be a lot of logistical challenges and that’s why a consultation group has to be established and why FIFA has agreed to talk to all of the confederations and, indeed, why we were debating the matter in Dubrovnik last week.
“What happens next is that a group of individuals will work through the practical details of potentially switching to a winter World Cup – when it would be, what would be the issues as far as fixture congestion and reassessing when fixtures could be played.
“Those matters would be consulted with the associations, who in turn would consult with their own league bodies and hopefully a plan can be developed that everyone is happy with.”
However, the international players’ union has warned that too much attention is being directed, misguidedly, at 2022.
Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFpro, has complained that major fundamental issues such as the transfer system, third-party ownership of players and condition at the 2014 World Cup had been downgraded by the controversy over Qatar.
Van Seggelen, according to Reuters, said: “It astonishes me that the media is obsessed with Qatar in nine years’ time and does not seem very bothered about [heat and travel] issues at the World Cup in 2014.”
He added: “I spoke to the Italian and Spanish players after the Confederations Cup semi-final this summer and they said it was impossible to play extra time in that heat – and that was a late afternoon kickoff.
“The travelling is also a problem: you have four-hour flights in some cases and when you have just played a tough game and only have a few days to recover, that also has an effect.”