BELFAST: FIFA’s British vice-president Jim Boyce has only one reservation about the winter World Cup vote – the fact that one suggested date for the the final of December 23 may be just too close to Christmas.
Boyce, who steps down in May, would prefer the final be staged at least a week earlier.
He said: “I have heard December 23 talked about but for me that is too close to Christmas – that’s the only reservation I would have and I would like it a week earlier because all the spectators etc will want to get home for Christmas.
“But I want to wait until next month’s FIFA executive committee meeting to hear all the details.
“I welcome the fact all the stakeholders have been involved and although this is not going to please everyone I think common sense has prevailed.
“It will cause a lot of disruption but it is eight years away and people should have enough time to make it work.”
FIFA’s formal statement after the task force meeting did not specify dates beyond the generality of the months of November and December.
Discussing the switch in general, Boyce said: “It’s absolutely the right decision. There is no way you can play a World Cup in Qatar in June and July. You can air-condition the stadia but you can’t air-condition a country.
“The World Cup is the greatest sporting event in the calendar not only for the players but for the spectators and the conditions has been got to right for all of them.
“FIFA set up a task force and all the stakeholders have come up with a winter World Cup and I think, honestly, it was the only solution . . . FIFA’s game is to take football throughout the world.”
Other opinions, views, comments:
Jerome Valcke . . .
For FIFA’s secretary-general, Jerome Valcke, the world federation was left with no other option.
He said, after the FIFA task force meeting in Doha: “This is the only solution to avoid heat problems. It’s clear there are pros and cons for all but there is one solution coming out from these discussions, which is November-December 2022.”
Sheikh Salman . . .
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, the Asian confederation president who chaired the task force, appreciated that the worldwide discussions had represented a “challenging task.”
The Bahraini said: “We are very pleased that, after careful consideration of the various opinions and detailed discussions with all stakeholders, we have identified what we believe to be the best solution for the 2018-2024 international match calendar and football in general.
“It was a challenging task and I want to thank all members of the football community for their productive input and constructiveness in helping to find a solution that we believe can work for everyone.”
Luis Figo . . .
Similarly positive was the FIFA presidential candidate Luis Figo.
The former Portugal capotain described the recommendatopmn as “the right decision for the World Cup.”
He added: “It has to be played in the best possible conditions for the fans and players who will enjoy a great World Cup atmosphere, and for Qatar who deserve to be put in the position to organise a great event. With good will and a sense of solidarity it is always possible to find the right solutions.”
Greg Dyke . . .
Greg Dyke, chairman of England’s Football Association, had long since conceded that the World Cup in Qatar would have to be staged in the winter.
Dyke, reported by Press Association, said: “I have said from the start we cannot possibly play in the summer in Qatar, it would be ridiculous to play then. The best option would be to not hold it in Qatar, but we are now beyond that so November/December would seem to be the best of the bad options.
“It will clearly disrupt the whole football calendar as it means club football stopping at the end of October.
“You might be able to keep the disruption to one season if you start earlier and end later but it’s going to be tough – and unnecessary because we would not be doing this if FIFA had done their work properly.
“This is something FIFA brought on itself by not reading the report of the safety inspector. It tells you the technical assessment was not being used as the basis for the decision.”
UEFA . . .
The European federation UEFA said it has no objection to the timing switch because it would have minimal effect on the Champions League and Europa League.
It said: “UEFA supports the recommendation made by the FIFA Task Force for the international match calendar 2018-24 to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar from late November to late December 2022.
“UEFA believes that – for the benefits of players and fans – the event should be played in winter and now awaits the final decision from the FIFA Executive Committee meeting on 18/19 March 2015.
“UEFA sees no major issues in rescheduling its competitions for the 2022-23 season, should the 2022 FIFA World Cup proposal be approved by the FIFA Executive Committee, and UEFA acknowledges that the competition may be shortened and thus that the release period of players be reduced.”
Michel Platini, French president of UEFA, has said that he voted for Qatar as host in his role as a member of the world federation FIFA’s executive committee in December 2010. Shortly after that award Platini began a campaign to have the finals switched to a winter date.
FIFPro . . .
FIFPro, the international players’ union, has been voluble in expressing concerns about the temperatures but it continued to grumble even after the date switch.
Theo van Seggelen, its general secretary , said: “Removing players from the danger zone of playing in a Qatari summer is only the first, very important step.
“FIFPro has tabled its concerns as the conditions in Qatar go way beyond heat. It’s a human rights matter more than anything else. Kafala does not protect the rights of the players in Qatar.
“Similarly, the players should have the righ to unionise, access to fair contractual standards, and dispute resolution mechanisms that align with the international football community.”
And the Qataris . . .
Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary-general of the 2022 Supreme Committee, had always insisted that the date made no difference to Qatar’s preparations.
Al Thawadi said: “For us this is another milestone and we can contnue focusing on delivering a fantastic World Cup.”