Uefa backs winter World Cup as Blatter admits foul play
Prospect of a winter World Cup gets closer, but fans want Qatar stripped of tournament
A WINTER World Cup in 2022, with all the disruption it will entail, is a big step closer today after football's governing body in Europe, Uefa, agreed the tournament cannot be played in the summer months when temperatures in Qatar reach 50C.
Among Uefa's 54 member states are the countries that host the most lucrative domestic league competitions in the world - including the Premier League - which will have to deal with the ramifications of moving the Qatar World Cup to the winter.
Yet the organisation voted in favour of the switch at a meeting in Croatia, though it also called for more consultations before deciding exactly when in the winter the tournament should he held.
There appears to be a split over whether the competition should take place in January and February 2022, or at the end of the year.
Despite the lack of clarity, the vote paves the way for Fifa to agree in principle to move the competition to the winter at a meeting in Zurich on 3 October, reports The Guardian.
Britain's Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce says: "What has come out of this meeting is that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer... [but] there is still nine years to go and people feel Fifa should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football. There is plenty of time to do that."
The vote comes after Fifa president Sepp Blatter claimed politics had played its part in the controversial decision to award the 2022 competition to the tiny, oil-rich Gulf state.
ESPN reports that when Blatter was asked by a German magazine if Qatar had won the vote for non-sporting reasons, he replied: "Yes, there was definitely direct political influence. European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in the country."
That has been interpreted as a dig at Uefa president Michel Platini, who is said to have dined with Nicolas Sarkozy, the then president of France, and Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, before the vote in 2010. Platini has consistently denied any political pressure was applied.
Uefa's vote could also have repercussions for Australia, which is demanding compensation from Fifa if the 2022 tournament is moved. Australia, which bid against Qatar to host the World Cup, now claims the bid process was flawed, not least because its bid was based on a tournament to be held in the European summer.
The Australians' move has won some praise. "We can only hope [the FFA] has lit the spark that will fan the flames of global protest over the increasingly ridiculous decision to hand Qatar the rights to host the event," says the Sydney Morning Herald.
"Of course the easiest and simplest thing would be for Fifa to admit it screwed it up, declare the 2022 bid a no contest, pay compensation to those countries (Qatar, USA, Australia, South Korea, Japan) who bid and reopen tenders... Pigs might fly."
Nevertheless, that option remains popular in the UK. A poll on the Sky Sports website found that 85 per cent of fans were in favour of moving the 2022 World Cup to another country. ·