Hold 2022 World Cup a month early says bid evaluator

Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:10am EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who claims his warnings about playing the World Cup in Qatar in June and July were ignored by FIFA when they awarded the Gulf state the tournament, has suggested it should be played in May and June instead.

Mayne-Nicholls, the chairman of FIFA's Evaluation group that studied the nine bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in finite detail, on Wednesday proposed three alternative times of the year for the 2022 tournament: January/February, May/June and October/November.

Since it started in 1930, the World Cup has traditionally been held in June and July, occasionally starting in the last few days of May.

"If we played it in May and June it could start on May 20 and finish on June 19 when it would be warm but not like it is in the heat of July. The Champions League final could be on April 30," he told delegates at the Leaders in Football conference.

"FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested October/November, while UEFA have proposed January and February. They all pose challenges, but Qatar won the vote to stage the finals and it should be played there, but we have to find a new time of year."

Qatar were awarded the 2022 finals in December 2010, beating off rival bids from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan, despite the report from Mayne-Nicholls and his inspection team that spelt out the dangers to the FIFA executive committee which included reference to the summer heat that can rise as high as 50C (122F).

He implied on Wednesday he had favored the United States for 2022 saying that an estimated 1.6 to 2.0 million fans would have travelled to the U.S. for the finals and had a huge party.

"Football belongs to the fans," he said, "The World Cup will not be the World Cup if fans are staying in the hotel lobby.   Continued...

Chief FIFA inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls speaks during a news conference for the FIFA Inspection Visit for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid in Doha September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad