English FA concerned about Qatar 2022 ‘nightmare’
London: The head of England’s Football Association warned Tuesday that moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the start of the year would be a “logistical nightmare.”
Since the contentious vote in December, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he expects the event to be staged in early 2022 due to concerns about the blistering summer heat in the desert nation.
“The notion of playing in Qatar just leaves me in a cold sweat at the moment,” FA general secretary Alex Horne said Tuesday.
“Preparing the teams for that environment, we don’t know enough about what they are promising logistically in terms of training grounds etc. It doesn’t feel like a great experience for the fans, the whole thing is odd, let me just say that ... I know it won’t be easy.”
Qatar beat out the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea for the bidding rights despite concerns over temperatures which routinely exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
While moving the World Cup to a cooler time of year would be better for the health of players, it would throw domestic football schedules across Europe into turmoil before and after the tournament, which normally starts in June.
“It will do all sorts of odd things won’t it, because you need to find nine or 10 weeks across the winter. It’s going to split the season and you’ll need to start early or finish late,” Horne said.
“It’s a logistical nightmare. Whether it’s a good idea or not I don’t know.”
Already unhappy with the voting process after England’s 2018 bid flopped last month, Horne was asked about whether the 2022 event should be allowed to move since it wasn’t mentioned during bidding.
“It’s a bit unfortunate isn’t it?” he said flippantly.
Horne is still unhappy that England only received two votes in the contest, which Russia won, with one coming from Geoff Thompson, the English member of FIFA’s executive committee.
One of Horne’s priority as he enters his first full year in the job is to ensure England has a greater say at the heart of world football.
He has already met with UEFA counterpart Gianni Infantino in recent weeks and he also plans to hold talks with FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
“My ambition is calmly to reset our international strategy,” Horne said. “We can’t host the World Cup here until 2030 now in practice and goodness knows if that’ll end up being ‘34, ‘38 if they change the rules again!”
“We’ve got to be disappointed that we’re arguably the most commercially successful association on the planet ... and we just don’t seem to have the clout that I would expect in either FIFA or UEFA ... there’s a long-term plan to try to move the right people into position at UEFA, FIFA and resolve some of these process issues from within.”
Horne said that the British home nations would not sacrifice their rotating, permanent FIFA vice-presidency to gain favor within world football’s governing body.
“There’s no view across the FA that that sentiment holds any water, that we should be abandoning the British vice-presidency,” he said. “If we don’t get goal line technology in March (at the International Football Association Board meeting), you might ask me the question again. If that isn’t working then perhaps we are wasting our time.”