Winter World Cup plans 'on ice'

Sepp Blatter says that World Cup 2022 will be played only in Qatar and only in summer unless organisers say otherwise.

    Qatar's air-conditioned plans for a first World Cup in the Middle East were accepted by FIFA [GALLO/GETTY] 

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that the Qatar 2022 World Cup would be played in summer and that no other Gulf state would host matches – but still suggested that the situation could change over the next 11 years.

    In an interview with the BBC set to be aired in full later on Monday, Blatter said that the issues were "on ice" and that any change would come from Qatar's as-yet-unformed organising committee.

    "Everything is settled now for summer and with all 64 matches in the territory of Qatar," football's most powerful man said.

    "In the bidding documents it was clearly established that the executive committee reserved the right to change anything in the bidding process, but here in this case it must come from Qatar.

    "In the bidding documents it was clearly established that the executive committee reserved the right to change anything in the bidding process, but here in this case it must come from Qatar"

    Sepp Blatter, FIFA president

    "Qatar has not moved for the time being. I think for the time being this matter is on ice because we have just signed in the last days the final documents."

    Qatar was chosen as host in December, winning a contest also featuring Australia, Japan, South Korea and United States. Russia was chosen to host World Cup 2018 on the same day.

    Desert heat

    The Qatari bid was based on a summer World Cup using air-conditioned stadiums to combat the desert heat.

    Despite this, there has been support for a winter World Cup with Franz Beckenbauer and UEFA president Michel Platini backing a January-February tournament.

    "Who said first that we should play in winter? It was Franz Beckenbauer, second Michel Platini and the world footballers' union (Fifpro)," Blatter said.

    Platini also suggested a "World Cup in the Gulf" with Qatar sharing matches with neighbouring countries.

    Blatter denied supporting a winter tournament himself and said he was impartial, although he feared a winter tournament could clash with that year's Winter Olympics.

    "I'm not in favour of one or the other although January and February would be in conflict with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) of which I'm a member," he said.

    Qatar last week sacked their coach, Bruno Metsu, after being beaten on home soil by eventual champions Japan in the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup.

    The Australia v Japan final also witnessed controversy as thousands of fans were locked out of the ground, many of them waving tickets at riot police blocking the entrances.

    Organisers later promised to refund ticket-holders who were denied entry.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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