Qatar World Cup Likely To Move To Winter

The prospect of the 2022 World Cup being switched to the winter has increased after both Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards and Britain's FIFA vice-president backed a move.

The Premier League has always strongly opposed a change but Richards admitted the tournament cannot be staged in the summer due to the heat.

Jim Boyce, Britain's FIFA vice-president from Northern Ireland, has now backed UEFA president Michel Platini's call for the tournament to be held during the winter.

Richards, speaking to Sky Sports News at the Securing Sport conference in Qatar, said: "I think they will play (the World Cup) at a time that is proper for football but they will have to speak to the leagues in Europe.

"They will have to agree proper times when we can start and finish.

"At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe. For us, at this minute, the answer is 'no'.

"But, if we take a proper view, we have to find a way to have a winter spell where we don't play and I think common sense will prevail.

"We've got FIFA now saying that medical people are saying that they can't play in Qatar in the summer because of the heat, which is probably right.

A view of the Khalifa in Doha

"I think over the next few years, things will change and they will come to a compromise."

Boyce believes the searing heat of July in Qatar, where temperatures often reach more than 45 degrees C, will be too much for players and spectators even with the promise of air-conditioned stadiums.

Boyce told the Press Association: "I was not part of the process that gave the World Cup to Qatar, but my feeling is that common sense should prevail.

"The World Cup is the greatest event in football and from a spectator point of view it has to be played at a time of year when people can enjoy it in comfort.

"People I know who live in Qatar say it would be very uncomfortable for the fans. There is also a medical and health concern for both players and spectators and if it is going to be safer to play it in January instead of July then I would be in favour of that."

Boyce insisted that, given enough notice, it should not cause too much disruption.

He added: "Many other countries already have a winter break so for them it should not be too problematic.

"England is probably the main country where there is no winter break but I believe that even there if they are given enough notice then for just one season it should be possible."

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said earlier this month that the 2022 World Cup could be moved to the winter if research shows holding the tournament in the summer heat would be dangerous for players. Michel D'Hooghe, the chairman of FIFA's medical committee, has also backed the move to play it in the winter.

The international calendar has yet to be fixed beyond 2018, so there is scope for the world governing body to allow the change.

Meanwhile, FIFA's executive committee are due to hear tomorrow or Thursday the outcome of an ethics committee investigation into the ISL scandal.

The case, involving the payment of millions of pounds in bribes to senior FIFA members by now defunct marketing partners ISL, has been scrutinised by FIFA ethics committee investigator Michael J Garcia.

Court documents published last year named Joao Havelange, the 96-year-old former FIFA president, and his former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira as having received the kickbacks.

Teixeira has since resigned, but Havelange remains honorary FIFA president. The ISL case also flagged up payments to two other current FIFA members: Nicolas Leoz from Paraguay and Cameroon's Issa Hayatou, the president of African football.

Despite Richards' comments, the Premier League itself insisted its opposition to a winter World Cup remains.

A Premier League spokesman said: "The Premier League's view remains unchanged. We are opposed to the concept of a winter World Cup for very obvious practical reasons that would impact on all of European domestic football."