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FIFA clarify Blatter's comments

FIFA has moved to clarify Qatar's position as hosts of the 2022 World Cup and insisted the final decision on when it is held lies with its own Organising Committee.

Concerns have been raised due to the excessive heat and humidity in Qatar in June and July, and although there has been no official request from the Middle East state to switch the dates there is a growing belief that is cannot take place in the summer.

Moving the World Cup finals will have serious implications for almost all European leagues which would have to shift their calendars to accommodate a winter competition. And the impact would be felt across at least three seasons rather than one due to the knock-on effect on the start and end dates of domestic campaigns.

Earlier this week, Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards and Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce both said they would support a winter World Cup in 2022.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was asked about the situation after speculation that moving the dates of World Cup would invalidate the original vote, which Qatar won by a landslide from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan

"For there to be a change to winter it is necessary that Qatar ask for it. They have not done so yet," Blatter was quoted as saying. "And they know if they do they risk another of the 2022 candidates bringing a challenge before FIFA, and the vote would have to be repeated."

The bid registration tender documents sent out by FIFA stated that the 2022 World Cup finals would take place in "June and/or July of 2022", leading to the suggestion of a possible legal challenge.

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA would like to remind as communicated previously that in fact the bidding agreement clearly stipulates that the final decision on the format and dates for both competitions [FIFA Confederations Cup 2021 and FIFA World Cup 2022] is vested with the FIFA Organising Committee which may hear recommendations from the LOC [Local Organising Committee].

"Therefore, nothing has changed to what we have said previously. As it stands today, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is planned to be staged in Qatar in June/July 2022.

"Any potential change would have to be first requested by the competition organisers, ie. Qatar, and then presented to the FIFA Executive Committee for analysis.''

Blatter added in an interview published by Spanish newspaper AS: "There are always question marks over Qatar because the Executive Committee chose the country democratically despite the existence of FIFA technical reports clearly, very clearly, warning of the difficulties of the tournament being played there, for two reasons: the climate and the size of the country.

"Firstly, the temperatures are very high, and secondly the country is small for a World Cup host. So, the Executive Committee must accept the criticism it is now receiving for its decision.''

Blatter also criticised UEFA president Michel Platini for revealing how he had voted in the bidding process for 2018 and 2022.

"All I can say is that I don't understand why Platini made public declarations about how he voted in the selection process for World Cups 2018 and 2022," Blatter said. "His vote, and that of all the members of the FIFA Executive Committee, is secret. I don't understand Platini and I told him so a few days ago in Morocco.''

He also hit out at English complaints about the bidding process as Russia won the 2018 finals: "The UK parliament made accusations with no evidence. Nothing, not one piece of evidence. How can we hand out punishments without evidence?

"The English were very angry at not being chosen to host the World Cup in 2018. The English, the inventors of 'fair play'...''


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