KEIR RADNEDGE in COSTA DO SAUIPE: World football federation FIFA has pencilled in December next year for a decision on how to resolve the timing confusion over the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
The Gulf state was awarded the finals – first in the Middle East – in a controversial vote by the executive committee in December 2010. Within weeks European federation president Michel Platini launched a campaign to switch the finals to a winter date to avoid matches in the searing summer heat.
The prospect raised alarm bells in the Olympic and winter sports movement, with the Winter Games scheduled for February 2022, and among United States broadcaster Fox which does not want it World Cup coverage clashing with the closing stages of the NFL season and the Super Bowl.
Leagues from around the world have been mixed in their reactions with the most aggressively negative being the English Premier League.
Earlier this autumn the FIFA exco appointed the Asian confederation president, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, to oversee a worldwide consultation process undertaken by secretary-general Jerome Valcke.
The Qatar organisers have always insisted they would stage the finals whenever FIFA wished but would make no representation on the timing issue themselves. However secretary-general Hassan Al Thawadi has said that a decision was needed by 2015 at the latest.
FIFA’s exco, meeting here today on the eve of the 2014 World Cup draw, have agreed a roadmap for the process, as follows:
1, Consultations among the international football community and FIFA’s business partners up until August 2014;
2, discussions at an international match calendar meeting in September 2014;
3, further dscussions at an international match calendar meeting in November 2014; then
4, presentation to the executive committee in December 2014.
The presentation will presumably be accompanied by a recommendation which could be either April-May or November-December or even the original, air-cooled June/July.