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Winter World Cup 'nigh-on impossible'

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has told Sky Sports News that moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter would not be realistic due to its impact on domestic leagues.

Richard Scudamore does not believe a winter World Cup is feasible.
Richard Scudamore does not believe a winter World Cup is feasible.

Qatar was named as the host of the 2022 tournament nearly three years ago, but a decision has yet to be made as to when the competition will take place.

Temperatures in the Gulf state can reach 50°C during the summer and, although stadiums can be cooled, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said it was “not rational to play in June-July” as “you can’t cool down the whole country”.

Blatter confirmed he would request that the World Cup be held in winter, and has the support of UEFA president Michel Platini, but the switch would force a number of domestic leagues to make significant calendar changes.

The Premier League has already made its opposition to a winter World Cup clear, and Scudamore said on Thursday that FIFA should reopen the 2022 voting as Qatar had bid on the basis that it would stage a summer tournament.

“At the end of the day, FIFA made a decision which is for none of us to comment on,” Scudamore said. “They decided the World Cup will be in the summer in Qatar.

“Our view is, if that is deemed not possible by FIFA, they need to move the location. We can't just, on a whim, decide to move to the winter. It's extremely difficult -- nigh-on impossible in our view.''

He added: “Where they award the World Cup to is a FIFA executive committee decision and not our business, but the international football calendar has to be consulted. FIFA can't just decide.

“There's a whole series of complications and consultation has to be separate with leagues on a global basis to make sure it works for everyone before a decision is made.”

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said last week that it would be “impossible” to hold the tournament in the summer in Qatar but added: "I understand the reaction of the Premier League to not want to move it. I have some sympathy with them.

“They didn't have to choose to give it to Qatar in the summer but that's where it is. It will either have to be moved out of the summer or to another location. I suspect the former is more likely than the latter."

There has been a mixed reaction to the prospect of a winter World Cup in Germany, with German Football League (DFL) executive Christian Seifert questioning the “credibility of FIFA” in May, while former German Football Association (DFB) president Dr Theo Zwanziger said in 2011: "I deem the Qatar decision false.”

However, the DFL’s Andreas Rettig has since said the league would “welcome” a winter tournament, and Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has also expressed his support for the plans.

Rummenigge, who also acts as president of the European Club Association (ECA), has proposed a “Lego system” that would see domestic football broken up into blocks of fixtures to permit the staging of a winter World Cup.

It remains unclear whether a change in schedule -- which has yet to be discussed by FIFA’s executive committee -- would be open to legal challenge from countries such as America, Australia and Japan, whose bids to stage the tournament failed.


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