Tuesday 21 January 2020

FIFA confirm there is 'no doubt' the World Cup is staying in Qatar

A FIFA spokesman has insisted there is "no doubt" the 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar as the world governing body meet to discuss growing concerns over the tournament.

FIFA's executive committee began a two-day meeting in Zurich on Thursday, and although it is expected they will not discuss the 2022 tournament until Friday, it was already the dominant topic of conversation outside their headquarters.

While the footballing authorities grapple with the question of whether it should be played in the summer or the winter, ongoing debates over the fairness of the original bidding process and fresh controversy over Qatar's treatment of migrant workers involved in constructing facilities have led some to question whether it should go ahead in the country at all.

However, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio has moved to end that debate before it gathers momentum.

"No doubt," he told reporters when asked if it would be played in Qatar. "What is open to question is if we play in winter, and if so is it November, December, January, I don't know...

"But there is no doubt we will play in Qatar."

The issue of migrant workers' rights was raised again as the meetings got under way as a group from the global workers' union launched a protest outside FIFA headquarters.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had originally promised there would be a decision at this week's meetings on when the tournament would be played, but others have called for a delay while a full consultation is undertaken with the game's stakeholders.

Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce is prepared to back a decision in principle to move the World Cup to the winter to avoid the summer heat in Qatar but thinks it is too early to decide on the exact timing.

He told Press Association Sport: "I wouldn't object to taking a decision on moving it in principle - I think nearly everybody is agreed on that.

"But I don't think we can make any decision on the exact timing - should it be in November, January or whenever - until we have got everyone in the game around the table to find a solution."

UEFA president Michel Platini, a FIFA vice-president, has backed the idea of playing in winter, but has he is more concerned with dealing with the findings of an investigation last week which uncovered appalling treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.

He said: "I'm much more concerned about that than the discussion about summer and winter.

"There will be no decision. It is impossible. We must wait to see what proposal president Blatter will bring to the executive committee."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Football League has claimed that FIFA should run the vote for the 2022 World Cup again rather than switch it to the winter.

Greg Clarke, the Football League chairman who was part of England's 2018 bid delegation three years ago when Qatar won the vote for 2022, said it would be unfair on the losing bids to now switch the timing of the World Cup.

Clarke told Press Association Sport: "My view is that it should be like any public tender process and if the tender isn't valid, then have a new one.

"Don't start fiddling at the edges. If the tender doesn't work, run a new one.

"There were some really good bids from people like Australia and the USA who spent a lot of money and have a great footballing culture and really wanted to run the World Cup, and they were excluded on the grounds that it was going to be in the summer and that it was going to be in Qatar.

"If I was them I would be less than happy if FIFA are now changing the rules, and my view is: run it again."

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