Europe remains opposed to a winter World Cup, but their main objection is the decision to stage the 2022 finals in a small tiny country with no football tradition.
If the views of Lyon president and European Club Association executive board member Jean-Michel Aulas regarding the proposal to switch the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar from June to the last two months of the year are any indication, the continent’s top teams and FIFA are heading for quite a clash.
Aulas, never one to sit on the fence on any issue, recently told Radio Monte Carlo that a November/December schedule was ‘not the most appropriate period’ and made it clear that he saw the recommendations of the FIFA task force as only the first pitch in the decision-making process.
“We’re just to starting the discussion, ” opined Aulas.” 2022 is far away. FIFA is in pre-election mode (referring to the presidential run-off due to be held in May), so there are a certain number of political positions being taken. Subsequently they can be changed.
While FIFA general-secretary, Jérôme Valcke insists European clubs will receive no compensation for the radical switch to a World Cup in winter, the 214 clubs in the ECA are determined to make Sepp Blatter and company pay for the inconvenience and after receiving 51 million euros from FIFA for the ‘use’ of players at Brazil 2014, the clubs will be pushing as hard as possible for a substantial increase.
“The lack of income for two-and-a-half months is a key problem,” Aulas declared. “We successfully negotiated with UEFA for compensation for our players in European finals and today we’re demanding the same thing from FIFA.
“If there’s no movement in this matter, I think there will be an extremely virulent reaction from ECA. We may have to go to Brussels to present our case. A business needs its assets, which are its players and we require recompense when they go play in other competitions.”
In FIFA Land, it is normal practice to pretend that the British media are the only ones not to toe the ‘football family’ line, but as far as Qatar 2022 is concerned, the misgivings are much. much more widespread.
The influential France-Football magazine repeatedly has alleged corruption in the host nation voting process; leading German magazine Der Spiegel last week described the shifting of the tournament as ” the next step in a gigantic farce” and even in Sepp Blatter’s Swiss backyard, the press knives are out.
Thomas Schifferle, the sports editor of venerable Zurich daily, Tages Anzeiger, recently went straight for the FIFA jugular in an opinion piece and like so many other commentators, he sees the nub of the Qatar problem as more venue than dates:
“Moving the tournament back five months does not eradicate the bigger problem, the awarding of the tournament in December 2010 to a small Arabic state with no football tradition, without suitable stadia… FIFA inspectors gave the Qatari bid the worst mark and among other things, noted the extremely high temperatures of an Arabic summer.
“The members of FIFA’s executive committee generously ignored all that and still went for Qatar, choosing them ahead of such countries as USA and Australia, both of whom had excellent bids. The decision in favour of Qatar was disreputable.
“Some of the individuals whose votes caused this chaos no longer sit in the executive. Some, like Julio Grondona have died. Others, such as Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and Mohammed Bin Hammam have been pushed out because of corruption allegations. And how many of the Executive will still have a role in 2022 ? Apart, maybe, from the eternal Blatter.”