English football bosses question winter World Cup

AFP, Saturday 8 Jan 2011

Arsene Wenger has led a chorus of English Premier League managers who have questioned FIFA President Sepp Blatter's proposal to stage a winter World Cup in 2022

Arsene Wenger
Wenger objects to winter World Cup

FIFA chief Blatter said this week he "expects" the tournament in Qatar will be held in the winter months to avoid the searing summer temperatures which pose risks to players and fans alike.

But Blatter's comments have failed to impress club bosses in England, who have expressed doubts about the feasibility of restructuring the domestic football season to accommodate the global showpiece. 

"It looks like an idea that has come out of nowhere because nobody was told that when the bid was voted for," Wenger said.

"That is a bit of a surprise and certainly it would mean that the whole world of football has to be reorganised.

"As you know we have a Christmas period which is quite busy here and England would be very happy to play the World Cup in January just after that.

"It would demand a complete reorganisation of the whole world's fixtures and I cannot see that happening.

"Certainly it would create many problems, yes, between clubs and countries and countries and FIFA."

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce also wondered how the schedule in England and around the world could be successfully reorganised.

"What are we going to do with our league and what are they going to do with all the leagues around the world?" Bruce said.

Fulham boss Mark Hughes agreed a World Cup staged in January would likely mean that domestic campaigns would run until July of 2022.

"There must have been some thought gone into it or they would not have awarded the World Cup to Qatar in the first place," Hughes said.

"It's going to be a huge change that year and how it impacts on the Premier League we won't know until it actually happens."

Everton boss David Moyes meanwhile took aim at the fact that the dates for the tournament were now being shifted when bidding nations had campaigned on the basis of a tournament being held in the traditional June/July slot.

"Was everyone aware of that before they made their choice? Because I think if that had been put to the relevant countries, there may have been a lot of people not choosing Qatar," Moyes said.

West Ham's Avram Grant echoed Moyes remarks. While stating that moving the tournament to winter was "not a bad idea", he added: "But I like it when ideas come before decisions, not after decisions."

FIFA's awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar—a small oil-rich Gulf state where summer temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius in summer months—at a controversial vote in Zurich last month.

Speaking in Doha this week ahead of the Asian Cup kick-off, Blatter said the 2022 tournament was likely to be held in winter.

"I expect it will be held in the winter. We have time to look at this question, it is still 11 years away but we must decide the most adequate period for a successful World Cup which means January or the end of the year," he said. "When you play football you must protect the main people, the players." 

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