Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Fifa bigwig lets the cat out of the bag over 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar

No decision: Jim Boyce says World Cup talks are ongoing

Jim Boyce has expressed his surprise at Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke's claim that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar "will not be in June or July".

Fifa vice-president Boyce has insisted that no decision has been taken, however it now looks certain to be in the winter of 2022 with November the most likely date.

Valcke, who has been given the task of looking at alternative dates due to the fierce heat of the summer in Qatar, says it is likely to be held some time between November 15 and January 15.

However, former Irish FA president and Cliftonville chairman Boyce said he was "totally surprised" by Valcke's disclosure.

"I was totally surprised this morning when I heard what Jerome has said," commented Boyce. "As I understand it all the stakeholders will have discussions and report back to the executive committee of Fifa and no final decision will be made on when the 2022 World Cup would be played until December 2014 or March 2015.

"As far as I am concerned that remains the situation and there has been nothing said to me to make that any different."

Boyce added that Valcke "may have been stating his personal opinion".

He also said there had been a general assumption that the 2022 World Cup could not be played in the summer due to the heat.

That view has previously been expressed by Uefa's 54 member countries and Fifa president Sepp Blatter but no decision on alternative dates has been taken.

"There is an expectation but there has been no decision," said Boyce.

Valcke, who may have jumped the gun, has been in close contact with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and has agreed to avoid any clash with Christmas fixtures.

He also needs to avoid the winter Olympics in the February of 2022 which leaves November as the only realistic option.

Valcke said: "It will not be in June or July."

He added: "Frankly I think it'll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.

"If you play between November 15 and the end of the year that's when the weather is at its most favourable." Valcke suggested it will be "like a warm spring in Europe" with "an average temperature of 25 degrees, therefore it's perfect for football".

Fifa said in a statement that Valcke was expressing his own view and that no decision would be taken on the timing before this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

The statement said: "Secretary General Jerome Valcke explained today in the Radio France interview – as he had already mentioned previously – that in his view the 2022 Fifa World Cup must take place in winter and the best possible timeframe would be 15 November to 15 January.

"However, the precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community (Fifa, confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players) as well as Fifa's commercial partners (commercial affiliates and media rights licensees).

"As the event will not be played until eight years' time the consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.

"Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil as agreed by the Fifa executive committee."

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