Posted October 03, 2013

Report: FIFA to form task force to study possible winter 2022 Qatar World Cup

2022 World Cup
US Soccer president Sunil Gulati will likely approve of FIFA's decision to further study a winter World Cup before making a decision.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati will likely approve of FIFA’s decision to study a winter World Cup before voting. (Alexander Hassenstein/FIFA via Getty Images)

Under siege by critics and under pressure from a variety of stakeholders with competing interests, FIFA appears to have decided it needs a little more time to dig its way out of its Qatar-shaped hole. Or, if recent history is any indication, to dig a deeper one.

According to a Thursday report in the London Evening Standard, the all-powerful FIFA Executive Committee – meeting this week in Zurich – has opted to form a “task force” to investigate the possibility and ramifications of playing the 2022 World Cup over the preceding winter.

A move would save the players, spectators and “FIFA family” from having to endure the oven that is Qatar in the summer. It would also infuriate broadcast partners, including Fox, leagues around the world and bidders that lost the 2022 vote – including the U.S.

“It was always media hype to expect the executive to come to such a decision this week without looking at all the consequences. The World Cup is nine years away and there is no need to rush to make a decision,” a FIFA source told the Evening Standard.

“Indeed the agenda for the meeting merely says we should ‘discuss’ the Qatar World Cup not whether we should move it,” the source continued. “Indeed it is at the moment such low priority that it is item 25 in a 27-point agenda. So it is not even likely to be discussed today.”

The task force will include representatives from European leagues, which play through the winter, and broadcasters, according to the report.

Fox, which spent $425 million for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, released a statement last month confirming it signed with FIFA “with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s.”

The Evening Standard report may surprise Qatari World Cup organizers, who released a statement Thursday via the Qatar Football Association anticipating an Executive Committee decision, or at least a discussion, on Friday.

“We bid for the FIFA World Cup in summer because we saw the opportunity to present solutions for players and fans in our country, and others with similar climates, to enjoy the outdoors in cool, safe and comfortable conditions in the summer months,” the statement read.  “We committed significant time and resources toward proving that we could host the tournament in summer in cool, comfortable and safe conditions. If the international football community reaches a consensus to move the event to an alternate date, we are able to accommodate that change. This would not affect our planning and preparation.”

Eleven of the 24 members of the current Executive Committee, which doesn’t include FIFA president Sepp Blatter, have taken their seats since the controversial December 2010 vote that awarded the World Cup to Qatar. Among them is U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati.

Gulati likely will be pleased by Thursday’s news.

“I don’t see at this stage, frankly, how I or any member of FIFA’s executive committee could make a sensible decision,” Gulati told The New York Times last month. “We don’t have enough information and there are too many questions. I don’t see how anybody in a position of responsibility can take a position without some answers.”

He added he did not know whether Qatari organizers were prepared to cover FIFA in case of lawsuits by defeated bidders, TV networks or corporate sponsors expecting a summer competition.

It’s also unknown whether any task force will address the horrifying reports of rampant abuse of migrant workers in Qatar. There’s little evidence to suggest FIFA is capable of fairness, transparency and good judgment, but a task force that includes legitimate external representation at least opens up the possibility.

2022 World Cup head ‘confident’ Qatar will keep event

7 comments
Kalzy
Kalzy

Sunil needs to mix in a chin

Michael22
Michael22

The crazy thing is, there is no way to expect Qatar to make money on this WC, so the greed angle is also somewhat suspect. Why would Qatar bribe all these FIFA officials to win a tournament that they could not expect to profit from? All the stadiums from scratch, and expensive new and untried technology to keep the players from overheating. There is way more money to be made with a WC in the US, so this is more like reverse greed, where money is spent so that everyone involved will be unsatisfied and way less total revenue for everyone. 

/facepalm

eliar3
eliar3

Debacle.  Pure and sImple.   Greed caused this mess.

flightmaster101
flightmaster101

Gulati should be playing hardball and try pull some politicking to get the world cup moved to the US, where it should have been in the first place.

soccerBob
soccerBob

Rick, Agreed!  I think you have to reopen the bidding process again and try in some way to appease(pay back) the Qatar.  Batter needs to go! This is a huge mess and its his fault.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

FIFA is as corrupt as any sporting authority anywhere. Qatar paid Lord knows how many millions in bribes to have the cup awarded to them.  And FIFA will be afraid to take the cup away from them now. When you are bought by Arab money you had better STAY bought. So now they are stuck in an impossible situation. Play in the unspeakable heat of their summer, or move to winter and prove conclusively that you made an incomprehensibly stupid decision in the first place. The obvious choice is to open up the whole bidding process all over again, and try to repay as much as you can of the payoff. But I don't see that happening either. It's a mess, and FIFA asked for it.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

@Michael22I think, Michael, because of the prestige of hosting. It may not seem as big a deal to the US, but hosting the cup carries a lot of weight in world opinion. That is why Qatar bought the Cup. For the prestige. At least that's my opinion.