Bin Hammam open to winter World Cup in 2022

FIFA executive committee member Mohamed bin Hammam is open to discuss changing the 2022 World Cup to the cooler winter months.

Doha: FIFA executive committee member Mohamed
bin Hammam is open to discuss changing the 2022 World Cup to
the cooler winter months.

The Qatari, who is also the president of the Asian
Football Confederation, has repeatedly said that he wants the
World Cup to be in the summer months. But on Thursday, Bin
Hammam softened his stance.

"I`m not opposed but I`m not proposing," Bin Hammam said,
adding that any discussion should not take place until after
2018, when Russia will host the World Cup.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has supported moving the
tournament to avoid the searing heat in Qatar, and several
other top football executives in Europe have agreed.

FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer was the
first to suggest the idea, and he was followed by UEFA
President Michel Platini. Blatter said it was worth studying
and FIFPro, which represents professional football players
worldwide, said the event "must be held in winter."

But the big football clubs remain unconvinced. They are
reluctant to change the international calendar and are
concerned over a loss of revenue from breaking up the season.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup last month despite
concerns over temperatures which routinely exceed 40 degrees C
(104 degrees F). Soon after it beat out the United States,
Australia, Japan and South Korea, a growing list of football
executives began calling for moving the tournament to January
when it is much cooler in Qatar.

On Thursday, FIFA put out a statement reiterating that
there were not yet any plans to move the tournament.

"At this stage, there are no concrete plans to change the
international match calendar," the statement said. "Any
potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup from a summer to a
winter period would have to be initiated by the football
association of Qatar and would have to be presented to the
FIFA executive committee."

FIFA has said that Qatar has not requested a date change
and a spokesman for the bid said it will not make any comment
until after an organizing committee is formed in the coming

In December, Bin Hammam told a football conference that
it would benefit players to move the tournament to January. He
said a winter World Cup would ensure players would be in
better shape and wouldn`t be exhausted after completing a
grueling season.

But last week, he told Sky News that Qatar would be
"ready in June, July and we said we are going to face all the
challenges and we are going to meet all the requirement. Our
focus is June, July."

Bin Hammam, who is considering a possible run for the
FIFA presidency, also told Sky that he sympathizes with the
European clubs which would be hit hardest by a change.

After attending a children`s football tournament in Doha
on Thursday, Bin Hammam said he found it strange that there
was so much attention being given to the 2022 World Cup when
there are several other tournaments in the next decade.

"It`s quite bizarre," he said. "The World Cup 2014 is
just three years from today and no one is speaking about it.
It`s quite uncomfortable for me."

Bureau Report