DOHA —- Jerome Valcke has insisted that FIFA has no reason to apologise for the worldwide league disruption threatened by shifting the 2022 World Cup finals to the winter.
Valcke, the world football federation’s secretary-general since 2007, was speaking after a first formal meeting with the newly-constituted local organising committee.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association, had claimed that his members should receive financial compensation for the switch of the finals out of the usual June-July calendar slot.
This made no sense for Valcke who pointed out that the clubs already received significant revenues from the World Cup based on the number of days their players spend away at the finals.
Time to adjust
He said: “There is seven years to reorganise football for this World Cup.
“Why should we apologise to the clubs? We have had an agreement with the clubs that they are part of the beneficiaries. It was $40m in 2010 and $70n in 2014 and we are now taking with the ECA and other clubs about 2018 and 2022.
“We are bringing all our people to enjoy the sporting and the financial result of the World Cup.
“So why to apologise? I definitely don’t feel I have to apologise for the decision made yesterday to confirm that the World Cup will not be played in the summer but in winter.”
In bidding to host the first Middle East World Cup, the Qataris had targeted a June-July date and promised air-cooling technology in stadia, training centres and fan zones to counter the searing summer temperatures.
Leading FIFA figures such as UEFA president Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer as well as the international players’ union FIFPro then led demands for a switch to a winter date for the sake of players and fans.
UEFA, having upset its own major clubs by acquiesing to a winter tournament, risks angering fans with its own proposal of a World Cup Final on December 23 – meaning that fans of any European teams in the closing stage will not be able to return home in time for Christmas Day.
Spokesman Pedro Pinto made this clear after acknowledging that UEFA’s preferred option had been a tournament in January rather than November/December.
He said: “Once the FIFA Task Force recommended to stage the competition from late November to late December 2022, UEFA suggested that an option could be for the final to be played on December 23,”