Wednesday Kickoff: FIFA's Valcke backs winter World Cup; Former pro Hitzlsperger announces he is gay; and more

Wednesday Kickoff: FIFA's Valcke backs winter World Cup; Former pro Hitzlsperger announces he is gay; and more

South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: FIFA's Valcke backs winter World Cup; Former pro Hitzlsperger announces he is gay; and more

JeromeValckeFIFA3 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

If FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke had his way, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be played in the winter.

In an interview given to radio station France Inter, Valcke claimed that the ideal time for the World Cup to be played in the Persian Gulf nation is beginning in November and ending in either December or January. The Qatar organizing committee have continued to prepare for a World Cup taking place in June/July and FIFA announced last month that a decision on the dates won’t be made until December 2014.

“The dates of the World Cup will not be in June or July. I think it will be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest,” Valcke said. “If you play between November 15 and, let’s say, the end of December, it’s the time when the weather is the most favorable. You play with a temperature equivalent to that of a rather hot spring in Europe, you play with a temperature of 25 degrees (Celsius), which is perfect to play football.”

In response, FIFA released a statement, saying that Valcke was only speaking on “his view” of what should happen in the World Cup and that his words didn’t represent those of FIFA. The statement added that FIFA are undergoing a consultation process with all of their stakeholders and sponsors and the process won’t be rushed.

Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:

FORMER ASTON VILLA, STUTTGART MIDFIELDER HITZLSPERGER COMES OUT AS GAY

Recently retired midfielder Tomas Hitzlsperger has become the first German soccer player to reveal that he is gay.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, Hitzlsperger announced that he was coming out, saying that it was the right time to do it, nearly four months after retiring from professional soccer due to a series of injuries.

“I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” Hitzlsperger said. “Only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man.

“I was never ashamed of how I am,” Hitzlsperger added.

Hitzlsperger’s announcement follows that of former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Robbie Rogers’ 11 months ago, when he at the time retired from soccer before deciding to come back with the Los Angeles Galaxy this past season.

After retiring last September, Hitzlsperger ended a career that saw him play more than 100 games with Aston Villa and Stuttgart, as well as short stints with West Ham, Lazio, Wolfsburg, and Everton. The 31-year-old also represented the German National Team 52 times between 2004-2010, starting the Euro 2008 final where Germany fell to Spain.

Since making the announcement, numerous people have expressed their support of Hitzlsperger, including former national teammate Lukas Podolski and the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert.

QUICK KICKS

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made his first signing since taking over at Cardiff City, signing Norweigian midfielder and former Manchester United product Magnus Wolff Eikrem. (REPORT)

AS Roma completed the signing of former Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan on a four-year contract, with Roma paying Cagliari €3 million now with a further €6 million in June if they decide to buy him. (REPORT)

West Ham forward Andy Carroll is back in training and could be on the bench in the next week. (REPORT)

Bayer Leverkusen and Germany National Team midfielder Sidney Sam has made his move to FC Schalke official, moving at the end of the season for only €2.5 million. (REPORT)

Lyon rejected a €15 million plus €2 million in add ons bid from Napoli for midfielder Maxime Gonalons. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Agree with Valcke’s comments? Proud of Hitzlsperger for coming out?

Share your thoughts below.

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