FIFA executive ready to back 2022 winter World Cup
FIFA will move the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar to the winter if Sepp Blatter keeps his promise to allow the executive committee to decide when it is held, one of his vice-presidents insisted last night.
Northern Ireland's Jim Boyce is convinced the 27-strong executive will vote to change the dates of the tournament at its next meeting in early October after president Blatter confirmed yesterday it would be given the chance to do so.
Boyce initially insisted he could not speak for his fellow Exco members after confirming that he would vote for a move to the winter. But, pressed on whether there was enough support to ensure the motion was carried, he said: "I don't think there is any shadow of a doubt about that."
Yesterday saw Blatter finally act to end the uncertainty that has plagued the 2022 tournament since it was awarded to Qatar in 2010, in what was the most controversial World Cup vote in the history of the tournament.
FIFA had agreed that matches could be played in air-conditioned stadiums in order to combat the effects of the extreme summer heat in the middle-eastern country but fears have since mounted that the risks to the health of both players and fans were still too great.
Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, the two most powerful men in world football, both now appear on board for a change along with Dr Michel D'Hooghe, the FIFA medical committee chairman.
Boyce said: "It's 28 degrees in Belfast and I can't stick it. Now, you imagine 50 degrees, which is what we're talking about here."
Boyce pleaded for "common sense to prevail" but any switch to the winter could spark a raft of legal challenges, with Germany's Bundesliga warning in May that the European leagues could try to force a re-run of the 2022 vote.
The Premier League last night reiterated its opposition to a move, branding it as "neither workable nor desirable", but refused to confirm how it would react were it to happen. (© Daily Telegraph, London)