FIFA delays decision on Qatar World Cup dates
By Brian Homewood, ReutersZURICH -- The long and tortuous road to the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar took another twist on Friday when FIFA delayed making a decision on whether to play the tournament in the winter.
October 6, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Instead, FIFA, also grappling with allegations of maltreatment of migrant construction workers in the country, set up a consultation process to decide when the tournament should be held.
It will reach a conclusion sometime after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, whose own chaotic preparations have been shunted out of the limelight by Qatar, and by 2015 at the latest, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.
The announcement came nearly three years after Qatar was originally awarded the tournament and Blatter admitted he took too long to appreciate the problems posed by the country's scorching desert summer.
However, he warned that soccer's governing body could face “liabilities” if it moved away from the usual June-July slot.
“This issue will be an outcome of the discussions and consultations and then we will see what will be the consequences of liabilities or for leagues and other organizations if we played the finals in winter,” he said.
Australia, one of the four other countries who bid to stage the event alongside the United States, Japan and South Korea, has already said they could seek compensation if the tournament is moved away from the northern-hemisphere summer.
U.S. broadcaster Fox has said it assumed the tournament would be held in its regular June-July slot when it outbid rival ESPN for the television rights. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke had previously dismissed the idea that compensation could be paid.
Blatter, however, pointed out that FIFA had made it clear to all bidding countries that a summer World Cup had never been set in stone.
“The official FIFA documents given to all the bidders at the time stated that in principle ... the competition will take place with 32 teams... and it is expected to be staged in June and July,” he said, repeating the phrase “in principle” for emphasis.
Europe's powerful clubs have already indicated that they want to be involved in the consultation talks, which Blatter said would feature everyone who could be affected.
“The stakeholders include the players, the clubs, the leagues, the national federations, the confederations and FIFA, but it doesn't only include sports,” he said.
“There are other partners, economic ones, be they from marketing, the media or television.
“We also need to bear in mind our obligations towards these partners, so we need to carry out very deep consultation and pay a great detail of attention and show some diplomacy and wisdom.”