The 2022 Winter Olympics may have to move from its traditional January and February dates to accommodate the World Cup being staged in Qatar, leading European football clubs' official Umberto Gandini said.

Gandini, vice-chairman of the European Club Association (ECA) of Europe's top 200-plus clubs and Director of Sport at AC Milan, told delegates at the Leaders In Sport summit at Stamford Bridge that the World Cup should take precedence over the Winter Games.

We are ready to discuss [the date change] under one condition - that there is no damage for club football

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, ECA chairman

"Not to be controversial, but the World Cup is one of the major events in the sports landscape with the Summer Olympics," he said. "But the Winter Olympics, with all due respect, are not up there.

"When you have such a huge event like the World Cup, and you have to move it from its summer window, don't tell me it's not possible to find a solution and move the Winter Olympics a bit so they don't clash - especially now where the Winter Olympics are still under the bidding process and there are only two candidates (Beijing and Almaty).

"With wisdom and debate it is possible to achieve a solution which will satisfy the majority."

Effect on club football

FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010 and since then the question of when they would be played has been an issue for debate. FIFA agreed in principle earlier this year that matches could not be played in the searing heat of the Gulf summer.

Meanwhile, ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "The first thing we must recognise is that FIFA's decision was based on holding the World Cup in the summer of 2022.

"If there is now a strong wish for the stakeholders, FIFA, UEFA, FIFPro, and so on, to want to change, we are ready to discuss under one condition - that there is no damage for club football, because if we change from summer to November or January then it will affect our business, our calendar.

"And we are not ready to pay such a bill. That cost cannot be paid for by the clubs. We are not ready to pay it and it has to be made clear to FIFA that they need the goodwill of the clubs or we are not ready to talk or discuss it."

Source: Reuters