KEIR RADNEDGE in ABU DHABI: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has made it clear that ‘winter’ – in terms of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – means November and December and certainly not January and February.
Blatter was speaking here in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the final and third-place play-off in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
He had flown in from a two-day visit to Iran and travels on to Qatar where he will meet the new Emir. FIFA’s launch of a consultation process on the date of the finals will be on the agenda along with the issue of construction workers’ rights.
Last weekend, in Lausanne, Blatter attended a meeting of senior members of the Olympic movement at which the creation of an international calendar was proposed. This was cement the Winter Games in January/February – which had mooted for the Qatar World Cup.
However Blatter said: “In our executive committee [last month] we decide to start consultations to try to bring this World Cup into the winter and it can only be November-December and in no January-February.
“I am a member of the Olympic Committee and this not discussed in Lausanne last Sunday but it was only about the Winter Olympics that you shall not play in January-February.”
Blatter acknowledged that FIFA was “very much concerned about the situation of the workers in Qatar.” He had heard the expressions of concern from labour organisations and the media – including specifically The Guardian. Now he needed to the other side of the story to present a balanced report to the executive committee on December 5.