FIFA has come under further pressure over the issue of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after Football Federation Australia (FFA) called for financial compensation for the tournament’s bidding nations should the event be switched to a winter calendar slot.
FFA chairman Frank Lowy said on Tuesday that FIFA should not rush a decision about moving the 2022 World Cup from a northern hemisphere summer to winter at its October 3 Executive Committee meeting. He said two main groups would be affected – those nations, like Australia, that were required by FIFA’s own bidding agreement documents, to bid for the event based on it being staged during the northern summer; and those leagues around the world, including the A-League, which would be severely disrupted and suffer financial loss. Australia, along with Japan, South Korea and the United States, was one of the nations to lose out in the bidding process, and the FFA faced heavy criticism over the A$42.25 million spent on the bid. Lowy’s comments come after the United States’ FIFA Executive Committee member, Sunil Gulati, 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.
Lowy said: “Australia invested heavily in the World Cup process and the entire nation was behind the bid. Since December 2010, Australia has been careful not to let its misgivings about the process be interpreted as sour grapes. But now, with increasing speculation about a change that will impact on us as one of the bidding nations, and because our competition will be affected, we have made our position public.” FFA said that October’s FIFA Executive Committee meeting should consider three main points. Firstly, that if a change in date is considered a “transparent process” should be established to examine the scheduling implications for all leagues and a method developed for agreeing “appropriate compensation” for those affected. Secondly, that an “in-principle decision” that “just and fair compensation” should be paid to those nations bid for a summer World Cup. Finally, FFA noted that any final decision on a winter World Cup should only be made after the investigative chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, chaired by Michael Garcia, concludes its inquiries into the awarding of the tournament to Qatar. FFA noted that if the Garcia investigation was to cast doubt on the 2022 bid process it would create a “perfect storm of chaos and uncertainty” for world football if FIFA had already altered the timing of the event.
Lowy also moved to stress the impact a winter World Cup would have on the ongoing development of the A-League. He added: “Our season takes place during the Australian summer to avoid a clash with other local football codes, a move that was necessary because the A-League simply could not get access to the high standard stadiums required as they were being used by other codes during the Australian winter. If the World Cup were to be staged in the middle of our A-League season it would impact on our competition, not just for 2022, but for the seasons leading up to and beyond that date. Clubs, investors, broadcasters, players and fans would all be affected. FIFA has an opportunity now to make the best of a bad situation by embarking on a transparent and orderly approach, unlike the process that led to the original flawed decision in December 2010.”