By DAN KARELL
FIFA is ready to talk about a winter World Cup once again.
A FIFA task force assembled by the FIFA Executive Committee to “assess options for the international match calendar 2018-2024” met on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main topic of discussion was the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and more specifically, whether to move it away from the usual time frame in June/July to either January/February or November/December.
“Discussions centered around the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and participants were presented with information on the implications of staging the event in winter as opposed to summer, as proposed by the FIFA Executive Committee,” a FIFA statement read.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke clarified that the World Cup must take place in 2022, and not in the winter months of late 2021 or the early months of 2023.
The revelation that FIFA is considering a January/February 2022 World Cup is in stark contrast to comments from last November by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Blatter ruled out a World Cup that would interfere with the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will likely take place in February 2022.
After more and more public criticism was leveled at FIFA for picking Qatar as a World Cup host, especially because of the dangerously high temperatures at play during the summer months, Blatter attempted last fall to orchestrate a move to declare that the 2022 World Cup would take place in November/December 2022.
However, a group of FIFA ExCo members, including U.S. Soccer’s Sunil Gulati, put a stop to that and called for patience and for FIFA to discuss a potential move to a winter World Cup with all their stakeholders and financial partners.
FIFA’s discussions about a move to a winter World Cup has earned them plenty of detractors, from European leagues who’s schedules will be significantly altered, to reportedly U.S. broadcaster FOX Sports, who own the rights to show the tournament in the USA.
The FIFA statement states there will be another task force meeting in November, and likely a third meeting in February 2015. At the next meeting, “each of the representatives (will be) asked to provide detailed information on how the different proposed dates for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will impact their relevant competitions, activities and/or stakeholders.”
What do you think of this news? Do you believe a decision on the 2022 World Cup timeline coming soon? Do you expect FIFA could move it to compete with the Olympics?
Share your thoughts below.