KEIR RADNEDGE in PRAGUE: The Spanish league has launched its threatened complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over FIFA shift of the 2022 World Cup finals to the winter.
The Liga de Futbol Profesional claims that, according to three independent experts, an enforced eight-week shutdown would cost it and its clubs €65m.
Taking the world football federation to CAS is also the LFP’s latest challenge from Spain to the authority of its own federation president Angel Maria Villar. The Bilbao lawyer is a vice-president of both FIFA and of the European federation UEFA and is widely believed to have voted for Qatar in the controversal FIFA ballot of December 2010.
In May Villar was forced to retreat over an attempt to prevent the league introducing a legally-enforced central marketing system to sell its TV rights from 2016.
Javier Tebas, the combative LFP president, was reported from Spain as saying the action in sport’s supreme court was being undertaken “in defence of the interests of the clubs which contribute to the national teams.”
He said that the experts’ financial assessments were being included in the complaint documentation.
Qatar’s bidding and hosting of the 2022 World Cup has been controversial from the outset even before the squabble over the timing. FIFA decided early this year that summer temperatures in the Gulf made a traditional June/July tournament impossible despite organisers’ promises of air-cooling systems for stadia, training venues and fan zones.
Last December, in a joint decision, the European Club Association and the European Professional Football Leagues suggested a compromise date of May 5 to June 4. They were outvoted on the FIFA calendar committee which decided on November 20 to December 18.
Tebas said that the Spanish league going it alone because, although other western European leagues were supportive, they were “in fear of FIFA.”
Michel Platini, who presides today and tomorrow over a meeting of the UEFA executive committee in Prague, has openly stated that he voted for Qatar because he thought it was time the World Cup was taken to the Middle East.
He was also always a proponent of moving the tournament to the winter although this set him at loggerheads with the wealthiest European leagues and clubs which make the Champions League the financial powerhouse it is.
FIFA believes it has a full agreement within the game after reaching a player release cash split with the clubs worth $209m for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
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