LONDON: Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has appealed for the Premier League to accept a timing switch for the 2022 World Cup for the sake of the greater interests of football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Northern Irishman Boyce was supporting comments by new Football Association chairman Greg Dyke on Friday that the finals in Qatar should be shifted to winter to escape the searing summer heat.
The English Premier League is firmly opposed to a switch on the grounds that the disruption to three seasons would be too great.
Boyce, interviewed on BBC Radio Five by Garry Richardson, was not a member of the FIFA executive which made the controversial award to Qatar in 2010.
But he said: “The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the calendar. The situation in Qatar – and everybody knows this, as Greg Dyke has said – is that the temperature exceeds 50deg in the summer.
“I am asking this question from the health and medical point of view: How can you take thousands of people to the greatest sporting event and ask them to enjoy themselves in conditions that are impossible. I came back from FIFA Congress via Dubai in May and it was very difficult to go outside.
“To ask people to go out in 50degrees, you’d be asking for a lot of problems and healthwise it would be virtually impossible.”
Boyce felt unable to prejudge any FIFA decision, saying: “It is not yet officially coming up at a FIFA executive committee meeting. I’ve heard the president [Sepp Blatter] and people like [UEFA president] Michel Platini saying it will be impossible to play the World Cup in summertime in Qatar but there’s nothing offially on the agenda yet.”
He said he fully understood the concerns of the Premier League but added: “This is in nine years’ tine, not next year, and I would hope that people – for the good of football – could sit down and realise that a sensible decision has to be made here.
“I would think the finals would be moved. Most of the opposition comes from the Premier League. Many European countries who cannot play in our winter do have a winter break.
“I have read the Premier League saying this will affect three seasons but I don’t see why. But there’s nine years to prepare. If it is decided to be moved I would hope it can be moved in the right spirit.
“Sir David Richards, when he was chairman of the Premier League, said he thought it should be moved because of the extremp temperature. People are just using commonsense now. It should have been considered but that’s hindsight.
“I can fully understand the sentiments expressed [about the original decisionn] but I hope we can make the right decisions for the good of football and I would hope it can be moved for the right decision
“Surely some way we can sit down and work it out with the minimum disruption. I don’t think you need to cause disruption for three years.”
Boyce said his “personal preference” would be to play the World Cup in a ‘window’ between January 6 and February 8 or 9.
Later, on the same programme, Dyke reiterated his opposition to a summertime World Cup in Qatar, saying: “It seems to obvious to me you cannot hold the biggest football tournament in the world in Qatar in the summer. It would not be safe for the fans, for a start.”