MIAMI/LONDON: Jeffrey Webb, the FIFA vice-president who is trying to clean up CONCACAF, is not in rush to judgment over whether the 2022 World Cup finals should be moved from the traditional summer date writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
While England’s Football Association and the Premier League are polarised over the issue of the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf, Webb has said he will study all the evidence and all the options.
UEFA president Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar in the scandal-struck ballot by the FIFA executive committee in December 2010, has sought to stampede the game into a calendar-convulsing winter switch.
FIFA’s exco will discuss the issue for the first time since the original vote early next month.
Webb, interviewed by BBC Radio Five, said: “The real concerns are for the players. The World Cup is about them and this is all about showing them the biggest respect. Let’s do what’s best for football.
“I haven’t made up my mind. The FIFA president has indicated he will bring the discussion points up for the FIFA executive committee in October so we will be wait to examine the various analyses and reports.”
Webb’s comment was significant in offering priority concern to the players who have been promised air-cooled stadia and training camps by the Qatari organisers.
This contrasts with recent statements by FA chairman Greg Dyke, worrying about how the fans will cope. Such concern for fans raised eyebrows since fan concerns have not appeared to worry the FA in the past in the awkward staging of some of its major domestic finals and semi-finals at Wembley.
Webb has been busy, since his election two years ago at the head of the Central and North American confederation, to clean up the financial mess left behind by scandal-hit predecessor Jack Warner.
Asked about corruption in high football places, he said: “We are dealing here with human beings. We hope it is all in the past.
“World football, including FIFA, has had an unfortunate culture but because fans and the public at large is demanding that we estabish zero tolerance and FIFA has created various governance oversights.”
He said that dealing with the past had been “challenging” for CONCACAF but “but now’s it’s all about moving forward, building new bridges, empowering our members.”
Webb added: “We look at the past as a learning chapter. We we have made great strides and the confederation is rising.”
On other issues he predicted that next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil would be “phenomenal” despite the social tensions expressed by street protests during this past summer’s Confederations Cup.
He also expressed confidence in the world game’s new-found commitment to combating racism.
Webb said: “Racism is a part of our society. I don’t think we will ever eradicate racism from our society but our objective is to eradicate it from our stadiums, from our sport.”
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