Winter Olympics may have to move for 2022 World Cup: ECA

Wed Oct 8, 2014 1:11pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - The 2022 Winter Olympics may have to move from its traditional January and February dates to accommodate the World Cup finals being staged in Qatar, leading European soccer clubs' official Umberto Gandini said on Wednesday.

Gandini, vice-chairman of the European Club Association of Europe's top 200-plus clubs and Director of Sport at AC Milan, told delegates at the Leaders In Sport summit at Stamford Bridge that the World Cup should take precedence.

"Not to be controversial, but the World Cup is one of the major events in the sports landscape with the Summer Olympics," he said. "But the Winter Olympics, with all due respect, are not up there," said Gandini.

"When you have such a huge event like the World Cup, and you have to move it from its summer window, don’t tell me it’s not possible to find a solution and move the Winter Olympics a bit so they don't clash -- especially now where the Winter Olympics are still under the bidding process and there are only two candidates (Beijing and Almaty).

"With wisdom and debate it is possible to achieve a solution which will satisfy the majority."

FIFA awarded the 2022 finals to Qatar in 2010 and since then the question of when they would be played has been an issue for debate. FIFA agreed in principle earlier this year that matches could not be played in the searing heat of the Gulf summer.

World soccer's governing body, whose president Sepp Blatter is also on the International Olympic Committee, has set up a task force under Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman of Bahrain and FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, which met for the first time last month.

The IOC, which has already signed a number of multi-million dollar sponsorship and broadcasting contracts that include the 2022 Winter Olympics, said on Wednesday Blatter had assured them there would be no clash.   Continued...