Platini backs idea for winter World Cup in Qatar

Reuters, Friday 2 Dec 2011

UEFA president Michel Platini says he would be willing to move European soccer club competitions in order to allow the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be played in the winter

Michel Platini

The World Cup was “the most important thing” and it would be better to play the tournament when the weather was cooler, Platini said.

The Frenchman, who could well be FIFA president by 2022 if he succeeds Sepp Blatter when the 75-year-old Swiss retires in 2015, also confirmed that he voted for Qatar in Zurich this time last year.

In an interview with Al Jazeera on the day of the draw for the 2012 European Championship, Platini said he would have no problem reorganising the dates of the Champions League and Europa League.

“Of course. If we play in winter, it will not be a problem to organise it. How can people go to Qatar in 50 degrees Celsius in June? If the people can’t come to enjoy it, it’s not good.

“If we play in winter it will be not a problem. Instead (of stopping the season) in May you play until June, and then stop in December. Where is the problem?”

Platini, speaking a year to the day since Qatar were named the 2022 hosts, said he was pleased an Arab nation was staging the World Cup after Egypt and Morocco had previously lost bids.

“I voted for Qatar, because I think it’s nice to go to another part of the world, with people who never received the World Cup,” he said.

“I think it was a good decision, but now I think we have to adapt when is the best moment and where is the best moment to play this World Cup in Qatar.”

Ever since Qatar was awarded the tournament, debate has continued about how and why FIFA took the decision to stage it there.

Accusations of bribery and corruption have dogged soccer’s world governing body over the last year and FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said in October that some of his fellow members had been pressurised by their governments to vote for Qatar.

Qatar has denied any wrongdoing and says it won the right to host the tournament fairly and squarely.

Platini also told Al Jazeera that Blatter was “clumsy” in making remarks last month, which he has since withdrawn, that racism did not exist in football and that any racist remarks on the field of play should be settled by a handshake.

“Blatter was clumsy but he’s not a racist,” said Platini.

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