Valcke: No FIFA compensation to clubs for 2022 date switch
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The fallout from FIFA’s desire to play the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022 was felt in Europe and Africa on Wednesday.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke rejected calls to compensate wealthy European clubs for disruption to their seasons, and refused to apologize for a November-December tournament in the Gulf emirate’s cooler months.
Avoiding the heat in Qatar also means pushing the 2023 African Cup of Nations back to June, close to monsoon season in host-nation Guinea.
“It is not perfect, we know that,” said Valcke, addressing the consequences of breaking with the traditional World Cup dates. “We are all making concessions.”
Valcke insisted the governing body will not compensate clubs playing in top national leagues which must shut down for several weeks to clear the field for the World Cup.
“There will be no compensation,” Valcke said, the day after a FIFA task force recommended the switch in dates. “We are doing nothing which destroys football. There is seven years to reorganize football around the world for this World Cup.”
Payment was demanded Tuesday by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the European Club Association and Bayern Munich, who said his members would not bear the costs of disruption.
“I definitely don’t feel I need to apologize,” said Valcke, who is part of stalled talks to renew a working agreement with the ECA which expired after the 2014 World Cup.
Those FIFA-ECA talks must agree on payments to clubs worldwide for releasing players to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Last year, FIFA distributed $70 million to clubs from 2014 World Cup revenues.
Valcke also revealed that UEFA supports playing the 2022 World Cup final on a Friday, Dec. 23.
That proposal angered UEFA’s British members, who see their traditional holiday schedule threatened.
Every World Cup final since 1970 was played on a Sunday. Dec. 18 is also an option for 2022.
UEFA acknowledged its support for a final on the Friday before Christmas, when its preferred option of a January tournament was rejected.
UEFA later clarified that a final on the latest possible date would ease pressure on scheduling its national team competitions. Nations League games, which feed into European Championship qualifying, would typically be scheduled from September to November 2022.
The 2022 World Cup playing dates will be confirmed at a March 19-20 meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich.
Valcke said one concession to clubs and leagues was planning a 28-day schedule instead of the current 32 days.
Legal threats to challenge moving soccer’s marquee event now appear over.
Valcke also acknowledged that awarding broadcast rights to the 2026 World Cup this month to Fox averted possible legal action from the American broadcaster, which has NFL and college football commitments in November and December.
The unexpected deal extended Fox’s 2018 and 2022 rights, which it bought for $425 million more than three years ago when FIFA was still insisting on June-July in Qatar.
“We have done what we had to do in order to protect FIFA and to protect the organization of the World Cup and without any breach of any international rules on the business side of this negotiation,” Valcke said.
Despite most focus on European football, Africa is also affected by the switch of dates.
The 2023 continental championship in Guinea will be pushed back from January to June, Valcke said at a news conference to launch the Qatari organizing committee.
The switch is good for clubs, mostly European, which will avoid having to release top African players again right after the World Cup.
“We are all making a number of concessions to make sure that this World Cup can be played, for the players, for the fans, for the media, for whoever is attending the World Cup in the best conditions,” Valcke said.
AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.