FIFA board deals with Qatari World Cup, labor laws

AP, Friday 4 Oct 2013

FIFA's ruling board will discuss on Friday how to move the debate on switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from hot summer months

FIFA President Sepp Blatter
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Photo: AP)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is expected to announce that a task force will consult football leaders and broadcasters worldwide, and report back to his executive committee within months.

Such an agreement by Blatter's ruling board would fall short of his stated plan to flatly reject the principle of playing the Qatar World Cup in June-July. He suggests a November kickoff.

Still, the momentum to move FIFA's defining event from its traditional dates appears unstoppable.

Blatter's board is also weighing a response to Qatar's treatment of migrant workers, after reported deaths and human rights abuses on World Cup construction projects.

The executive committee includes 13 men who took part in the December 2010 vote which controversially awarded FIFA's defining event to Qatar.

The tiny gas-rich emirate beat the United States 14-8 in the final ballot despite warnings the 40-degree (104 F) heat in June and July risked the health of players and spectators.

Qatar has twice hosted major football tournaments and neither was played in June or July, nor Blatter's favored choice of November.

The 2011 Asian Cup was played in January, which is preferred by UEFA and its president Michel Platini as the least damaging to European leagues and the lucrative Champions League.

In 1995, Qatar staged the Under-20 World Cup in April, and a spring 2022 tournament has been proposed by European clubs leader Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Blatter has steadily steered FIFA in recent months toward moving the 2022 World Cup dates after spending two years insisting that Qatari officials must request any alterations to the bid requirements.

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee insists it can stage a safe tournament in June-July by developing air-cooling technology, though would comply if FIFA reaches a consensus for change.

Legal challenges to any switch have long been speculated from losing bidders, European leagues forced to alter their August-to-May fixture schedules and broadcasters which bought rights based on a June-July event.

The U.S. is FIFA's most valuable territory, and either November or January directly clashes with the NFL season. Broadcasters Fox, Telemundo — owned by NBC Universal — and Futbol de Primera Radio agreed to pay a combined $1.2 billion in October 2011 to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

FIFA has ruled out compensating losing bidders after 2022 candidate Australia said it wanted to recoup its publicly funded A$43 million ($40.6 million) campaign costs.

FIFA gets around 90 percent of its revenue from the World Cup, and earned $3.655 billion from commercial deals tied to the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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