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Jun 8, 2013

Bernstein rejects winter World Cup calls

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has refuted calls for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be moved to the winter in an attempt to avoid playing in stifling heat.

A World Cup in December or January has been considered, with Qatar's soaring temperatures in June and July tipped to provide unsafe playing conditions.

Following suggestions from UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino to permanently have European Leagues scheduled during the summer, Bernstein weighed in on the debate surrounding the tournament in Qatar, claiming the World Cup bidding process would be "fundamentally flawed" if such a significant change was introduced.

"My personal view is that it would be a case of a false prospectus if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was switched to the winter," Bernstein said. "It is a serious matter bidding for the World Cup and countries including ourselves spent huge amounts of money bidding for the tournament.

"The bid was for the World Cup to be played in June and July and for it then to be moved to the winter would be fundamentally flawed. If people want it in the winter they should bid for it on that basis. To try and get it through the back door like this is absolutely flawed."

Bernstein, who will step down from his position with the FA next month, said there would be plenty at stake if the football season was changed.

"I personally believe that the domestic league season should remain more or less the way it is now, running from August to May," he added. "I think football is a winter game, that the public greatly enjoy their football through the winter and that we should think very carefully before we take football away from the public in the winter."

Infantino supported UEFA chief Michel Platini's assertions that footballers and fans would rather matches be played in the summer.

"Whenever you play the World Cup it should be the best period for it," he told The Times. "I had the same reflections on South Africa in 2010.

"Four years earlier in Germany it was nice sunshine. South Africa is a beautiful country, but at five o'clock, it's night and it's 0C. It's not a celebration of football.

"You see people in stadiums with hats and scarves. Why did England, who brought to us this beautiful game, decide that football is for the winter and not for the summer? Cricket.

"The month of June, which is the most beautiful month to play football, is hardly ever used except for the Euros and the World Cup. But the World Cup is played only ever 12 years, more of less, in Europe.

"I fully share this view that you have to play in the best period for football; that is not June or July in Qatar. This is an issue that FIFA has to sort out. The sooner they do it, the better. The decision for 2022 was taken in 2010, so in 12 years you can organise yourself."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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