World Cup 2022 will be played in winter, declares FIFA's Valcke
Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke has made another entry in the shambolic saga of when the 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar, stating it will not be held in its traditional summer slot, but rather some time between November and January, WRITES Robin Scott Elliot.
Ever since the game's governing body awarded the finals to the Gulf state four years ago, confusion has surrounded when it will be played, even if it has long seemed inevitable it would be moved from the summer months because of the intense heat. Fifa yesterday responded to Valcke's comments on French radio by insisting no final decision has been reached and none will be made before this summer's finals in Brazil.
There is no doubt, though, that there will be a switch from summer and Valcke's suggestion of an end-of-year tournament cements then as the likeliest date. "I think it'll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest," he said. "If you play between November 15 and the end of the year, that's when the weather is at its most favourable."
Valcke is an influential figure within Fifa, and is leading a consultation group into when the finals will be played. Mid-November to mid-December is favoured as it avoids clashing with the 2022 Winter Olympics and is the least-worst option for major European leagues.
RONAN COUNTING ON O'NEILL'S SUPPORT
MARTIN O'NEILL is 'leaving his door open' to Ireland's women's team counterpart Sue Ronan, writes John Fallon.
Both O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane expressed an interest in the women's game when they met Ronan for the first time recently at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown.
And, just like new England women's team gaffer Mark Sampson is learning from Roy Hodgson, Ronan expects O'Neill to be a major help to her.
"Martin and Roy were both very chatty about women's football and I think their appointment has given everyone a buzz about Irish football," said Ronan. "Martin's office in the FAI is close to mine, so I would imagine there will be interaction between us in the months ahead. He said his door will always be open to me.
Ireland will join England several other nations at the Spanish resort of La Manga next week to begin preparations for the resumption of the World Cup qualifiers in the Spring. One friendly has so far been arranged against Holland with other run-outs to be confirmed.
Ronan's side have started their campaign strongly by accruing seven points from their opening three games against Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia.
Teenage striker Claire Shine earns her maiden senior call-up following a blistering run at underage international level, where she has scored 14 goals in 24 competitive qualifiers.