Tuesday 24 April 2018

English FA chairman dismisses winter World Cup claims

David Bernstein steps down as FA chairman in July
David Bernstein steps down as FA chairman in July

Martyn Ziegler

Football Association chairman David Bernstein today condemned proposals to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter as "fundamentally flawed" and believes the game should resist any attempt to make domestic leagues play in the summer.

Bernstein, who steps down as FA chairman next month, was speaking after UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino added his voice to calls for a winter World Cup and also questioned why European leagues did not play in the summer.

Moving the 2022 World Cup to winter would cause significant disruption to European leagues - it would affect three seasons if the 2022 World Cup was played in December or January - and the FA chairman said Qatar won the vote on the basis of it being played in June.

Bernstein told the Press Association: "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.

"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."

In terms of domestic leagues playing in the summer, Bernstein is equally opposed.

He added: "I personally believe that the domestic league season should remain more or less the way it is now, running from August to May.

"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."

There has been growing pressure for the 2022 World Cup to be moved to avoid temperatures that can reach 50 degrees Celsius, despite Qatar's plan for air-conditioned stadiums and other facilities.

Infantino echoed his UEFA chief Michel Platini in backing the move.

He told The Times: "Whenever you play the World Cup it should be the best period for it. 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.

Infantino added he did not understand why football had been historically played in winter.

"You see people in stadiums with hats and scarves," he said. "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."

Press Association

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