The chairman of FIFA’s Medical Committee, Michel D’Hooghe, has revealed that he will recommend that Qatar’s 2022 World Cup be moved to the winter when the Executive Committee of world football’s governing body meets to discuss the issue next month.
FIFA’s Executive Committee will meet on October 3-4 and it is expected that an agreement in principle will be reached on a winter World Cup, most likely in November and December 2022, with the next six months set to be designated as time to figure out how to accommodate such a change. D’Hooghe has moved to back up claims he made in March that while World Cup games and training sessions would be held in climate conditioned temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius, the thousands of fans and other officials following the tournament would be more affected by the heat problem, therefore necessitating a winter tournament.
He told Press Association Sport: “My position is very clear. From the medical point of view I think it will be better not to play during the hot summer months. I am sure the Qataris could organise it when they have such technical skill, and I know they could play and train in a stable, acceptable temperature. But the World Cup is more than about games and players – I have done eight World Cups so I know a bit about it. A World Cup is about the 32 delegations, it’s about the whole FIFA family and the 12,000-15,000 media working very hard, and most importantly it’s about the fans. They will need to travel from venue to venue and I think it’s not a good idea for them to do that in temperatures of 47 degrees or more.”
Meanwhile, the United States’ FIFA Executive Committee member, Sunil Gulati, has stated that he is prepared to “rock the boat” and demand more time before making a decision. Gulati led the US bid that lost out to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup and has noted the effect a winter tournament would have on other American sports. Gulati’s comments come amid reports that US World Cup broadcast rights-holder Fox Sports “will not countenance” a Qatari World Cup staged between October and December. Fox Sports acquired US rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in October 2011 and has underlined that it signed a contract on the basis that Qatar’s tournament would be held in the World Cup’s traditional slot in the football calendar. Gulati told the New York Times newspaper: “I don’t see at this stage, frankly, how I or any member of FIFA’s executive committee could make a sensible decision. We don’t have enough information, and there are too many questions. I don’t see how anybody in a position of responsibility can take a position without some answers. If the position I’m taking – which is that we need a lot more information – is rocking the boat, then I’m going to be rocking the boat.” He added: “There is another rather important sport that plays in the United States in the fall. How does a move affect us trying to promote the game if we’re up against the NFL or college football now? That’s a reality we have to consider. And it’s just one of a hundred things like that which need to be considered.”