Premier League chief wary of 2022 World Cup timing
HONG KONG (AP) — The chief executive of the Premier League is concerned momentum is swinging in favor of moving the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.
Richard Scudamore has long been a critic of such a switch, contending it would disrupt Europe’s domestic soccer leagues. Now, he is more troubled than ever after a recent reversal by FIFA President Sepp Blatter on the timing of the Qatar tournament.
“Ultimately FIFA will decide, so of course one is worried,” Scudamore said Thursday in Hong Kong, where the Premier League Asia Trophy is being held. “We’re not silly. We’re not stupid. We can see that that’s the way the momentum is shifting.”
Blatter said last week he planned to ask FIFA’s executive committee to consider playing the tournament in the winter to avoid the searing summer heat in the Persian Gulf.
Despite health concerns in an official report before the World Cup vote, the executive committee in 2010 accepted the bid from the tiny emirate, where temperatures can hit 122 degrees during summer.
Air-conditioned stadiums were a defining theme of Qatar’s bid, but that only resolves the problem in venues for players, fans and officials. Blatter now says the governing body has to “protect our commercial partners, our TV partners.”
Scudamore said he would continue to fight the proposal, saying FIFA voters accepted the bid based on a summer tournament and any change to that could cause chaos for the major domestic competitions.
“They can’t really just decide to shift it by six months,” he said. “Everybody’s running a tight calendar. To suddenly change it all around is very impractical and in my view won’t work and it shouldn’t be allowed to work.”