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FIFA VP Webb: Players’ needs key at Qatar WCup

September 12, 2013

ZURICH (AP) — Players are the most important factor in a deepening debate on switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from summer to winter, FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb said Thursday.

“If something is not good for the players then it’s not good for the game,” Webb said at FIFA headquarters.

The CONCACAF president said that FIFA’s 27-member executive committee will receive detailed proposals at its Oct. 3-4 meeting.

“It’s obvious that there is a lot of concern,” Webb said. “I know a number of analysis has been done, some research has been done, some surveys have been done. So we will sit down and listen to the experts.”

FIFA President Sepp Blatter told The Associated Press last month that the board should agree in principle not to play the World Cup in June-July, and request widespread consultation on a better time to play in Qatar. Blatter has favored a November-December slot.

One of Webb’s colleagues on the board, medical committee chairman Michel D’Hooghe, is likely to present a case for switching tournament dates to protect the health of the players.

“From a medical point of view, I can say we are concerned,” D’Hooghe told the AP in March.

The Belgian doctor has worked for several years on a report documenting risks in playing football in extreme conditions, including heat, cold and altitude.

Much of the winter World Cup debate has centered on forcing wealthy European clubs and leagues, plus the Champions League, to alter their traditional schedules.

Webb acknowledged that some of his member leagues also would be required to change. Major League Soccer, which currently runs from March to November, is one of the least affected.

“No one likes change, but really if there needs to be an adjustment because of the World Cup, whatever is in the best interests of the game, is also going to be in the best interests of CONCACAF,” the Cayman Islands official said.