FIFA stands by decision for a winter World Cup

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FIFA stands by decision for a winter World Cup

DOHA, Qatar - The fallout from FIFA’s desire to play the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022 was felt in Europe and Africa on Wednesday.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke rejected calls to compensate wealthy European clubs for disruption to their seasons, and refused to apologize for a November-December tournament in the Gulf emirate’s cooler months.

Avoiding the heat in Qatar also means pushing the 2023 African Cup of Nations back to June, close to monsoon season in host nation, Guinea.

“It is not perfect, we know that,’’ said Valcke, addressing the consequences of breaking with the traditional World Cup dates. “We are all making concessions.’’

Valcke insisted the governing body will not compensate clubs playing in top national leagues, which must shut down for several weeks to clear the field for the World Cup.

“There will be no compensation,’’ Valcke said, the day after a FIFA task force recommended the switch in dates. “We are doing nothing which destroys football. There is seven years to reorganize football around the world for this World Cup.’’

Payment was demanded Tuesday by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association and Bayern Munich, who said his members would not bear the costs of disruption.

“I definitely don’t feel I need to apologize,’’ said Valcke, who is part of stalled talks to renew a working agreement with the ECA which expired after the 2014 World Cup.

Those FIFA-ECA talks must agree on payments to clubs worldwide for releasing players to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Last year, FIFA distributed $70 million to clubs from 2014 World Cup revenues.

Valcke also revealed that UEFA supports playing the 2022 World Cup final on a Friday, Dec. 23.

That proposal angered UEFA’s British members, who see their traditional holiday schedule threatened.

Every World Cup final since 1970 was played on a Sunday. Dec. 18 is also an option for 2022.

UEFA acknowledged its support for a final on the Friday before Christmas, when its preferred option of a January tournament was rejected.

UEFA later clarified that a final on the latest possible date would ease pressure on scheduling its national team competitions. Nations League games, which feed into European Championship qualifying, would typically be scheduled from September to November 2022.

The 2022 World Cup playing dates will be confirmed at a March 19-20 meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich.

Valcke said one concession to clubs and leagues was planning a 28-day schedule instead of the current 32 days.

Valcke also acknowledged that awarding broadcast rights to the 2026 World Cup this month to Fox averted possible legal action from the American broadcaster, which has NFL and college football commitments in November and December.


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