Friday 22 September 2017

Qatar's winter World Cup has damaged FIFA - FAI CEO John Delaney

Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

FAI chief executive John Delaney believes the controversy surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has damaged 'brand' FIFA.

A FIFA task force announced in Doha this morning that they have recommended that the Qatar World Cup be a shortened tournament taking place in November and December.

FIFA's executive committee meeting in Zurich on March 19 and 20 will make the final decision after the task force recommended "end-November/end-December as the most viable period for the 2022 FIFA World Cup", said a FIFA statement.

The FIFA statement confirmed the task force had recommended a shorter tournament.

It said: "The outcome of the discussions is also a proposed reduced competition days schedule with the exact dates to be defined inline with the match schedule and number of venues to be used for the 22nd edition of football's flagship event.

"The proposed event dates have the full support of all six confederations. The proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the FIFA executive committee, scheduled to take place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 19 and 20 March 2015. "

Speaking at the launch of the Polska-Eire Festival, Delaney said that the lack of clarity on when the competition would be staged since the awarding of the tournament has hurt FIFA.

"It's been damaging to FIFA, of course it has," he said.

"It's the lack of clarity.

"It has been damaging to FIFA as a brand, definitely.

"I'm surprised it has taken this long to make a recommendation because when they awarded the World Cup to Qatar, they should have said it's not in the summer.

"Everyone has the right to try and host the World Cup but the decision to award it and not be definitive about when it was played, that was the mistake.

"There's no surprise, we've known for the last numbers of years it was going to be in the summer.

"They have seven years to sort it out. It's the biggest tournament in the world next to the Olympics. Everything else has to take precedent to the World Cup.

"It's certainly not the traditional way of doing it.

"If the recommendation is to play it in November and December and FIFA adopt that, I think everyone has to work beneath that to achieve it.

"It's dragged on too long and if the recommendations from today are accepted and they work it out quickly and we get on with the football."

He also ruled out any possible change of host for the event.

"I don't think it is possible to switch the venue," he added.

"I'm sure Qatar have spent a lot of money, would there be a legal case against FIFA?

"I'm sure Qatar's government have a lot more money than FIFA will ever have. That boat has sailed."

Under the recommendations, the World Cup final would take place on December 23, just two days before Christmas and Delaney admitted that it would be "strange".

"I hope we're in it. If we're playing the World Cup final on Christmas Day, I'll be happy.

"If it's going to be December 23 for the final, is is strange? Absolutely. It's the strangest thing you'll ever come across that the World Cup final will be two days before Christmas Day."

He admitted that there was 'unease' at UEFA about hosting the World Cup in winter and that the ramification could see three European domestic seasons affected.

"At UEFA, where I have a role as well, we have had some big meetings on the World Cup and Qatar," he continued

"There was a lot of unease at UEFA as to how this would work.

"I know that the big leagues have got their heads around the concept of the World Cup, it's a question then of changing the league schedule, the leagues will shut down for a period, players will go to the World Cup and then the leagues will recommence.

"We've got the Champions League in the middle of that as well, it is a very difficult date to work with and it could affect three seasons.

"The season before, the one after and the one during.

"They'll have to sit down and work it out.

"I think people will accommodate it ultimately because the players will want to play on the World Cup.

"Tell me of a player who doesn't want to play in the World Cup, the supporters will want to be there."

* John Delaney was speaking at the launch of the Polska-Eire Festival, which celebrates the Polish community and their integration into Irish society. It will coincide with Ireland Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland at the Aviva next month.

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