MILAN/MUNICH: European opposition is building up against FIFA plans to shift the timing of the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The European Club Association, which represents more than 200 leading clubs, has indicated it would accept a minimal move to May as a compromise date.
However the European Professional Football League, representing 31 leagues comprising more than 1,000 clubs, wants no move at all from June/July.
European clubs provide around 75pc of the players registered by the 32 participant nations at a World Cup.
Milan executive Umberto Gandini, senior vice-president of the ECA, has spoken out with increasing vehemence lately over suggestions from world federation FIFA that November/December might be the best alternative to escape the searing heat of the Gulf summer.
At the Leaders Summit in London earlier this month Gandini raised the possibility of January/February because many European leagues are then on winter break. This ran counter, however, to an informal assurance from FIFA that the finals would not clash with the Winter Olympic Games.
Hence the apparent ECA preference for May 2022 when the temperatures are not quite as high as late June and early July. This would still rely on the Qataris coming through with their promised air-cooling systems for stadia, training grounds and fan zones.
However Frederic Thiriez, the French league president who also chairs EPFL, is not prepared to go even that far.
He said: “Moving the World Cup from the date original date would be extremely damaging to both domestic competitions and the leagues’ business and sporting interests. It should remain where it was in the calendar.”
Earlies this week FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that November/December 2022 appeared the most likely alternative option.
Chilean Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who led FIFA’s technical commission which assessed the 2018 and 2022 bidders and cautioned about the heat issue, has suggested various options including late-day kick-offs – which would suit European television.
Shaikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of the FIFA executive committee, is leading a worldwide consultation process on dates for the 2022 World Cup.
The Task Force will hold its next meeting on November 3, to be attended by all stakeholders including ECA and EPFL which will offer feedback on how the various proposed dates for the 2022 World Cup would impact their events and activities.
A further meeting is planned for March with a recommendation due to go before the FIFA exco in April.