Fifty leagues disrupted by winter World Cup warns official

Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:22am EST
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - At least 50 soccer leagues around the world would be adversely affected if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was held in November and December, the official who originally warned against holding the World Cup there has told Reuters.

The leagues would be slightly less disrupted if it was held in January and February but other complications make that difficult, says Harold Mayne-Nicholls, head of FIFA's technical investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which ranked Qatar the highest risk for 2022.

Mayne-Nicholls, a former president of the Chilean FA, says another possible window to stage the tournament exists in May and June 2022 but warns there are problems whatever date is finally chosen by FIFA.

He informed FIFA of the dangers of holding the World Cup in Qatar because of the intense summer heat in the Gulf which can be as high as 50C in June and July, the traditional staging dates.

He has since done further analysis on the dilemma facing FIFA, whose secretary-general Jerome Valcke said in November that a winter World Cup in either January and February 2022 or November and December was FIFA's preferred option.

"Given that FIFA's Medical Commission has already determined it is unsafe to play in the traditional window of June and July, there are three alternatives," he says now.

"Hosting the tournament in November and December but, since Christmas is generally celebrated across much of the globe, it is logical that World Cup must be concluded no later than Thursday, December 22.

"As the tournament lasts 31 days, this means it should start on Tuesday, November 22.   Continued...

A replica of the FIFA Soccer World Cup Trophy is pictured at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Hodel