No early consensus from Fifa Task Force on Qatar World Cup 2022 dates

Umberto Gandini, the vice chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), and Gianni Infantino, the Uefa general secretary, appeared on stage at the Dubai International Sports Conference to discuss, writes Gary Meenaghan.
Qatar propose there will be eight to 12 venues available for the 2022 World Cup, but the dates for the tournament are still very much up for debate. AP Photo
Qatar propose there will be eight to 12 venues available for the 2022 World Cup, but the dates for the tournament are still very much up for debate. AP Photo

DUBAI // Two members of the Fifa Task Force charged with exploring potential dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar provided a public example on Monday of the challenge they face ahead of delivering their recommendations to the Fifa Executive Committee next year.

Umberto Gandini, the vice chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), and Gianni Infantino, the Uefa general secretary, appeared on stage at the Dubai International Sports Conference to discuss the future of football.

They appeared to be reading from different scripts.

Both men are part of a task force set up by Fifa to help reach a conclusion regarding which month the tournament in Qatar will take place. The 40-person-strong task force will meet once more in Doha in February before delivering their findings a few months later. Yet when the subject was raised yesterday the two men gave contrasting opinions.

Read more: Qatar 2022 organisers insist World Cup hosting a matter of ‘when, not if’

Gandini said the ECA are keen to explore the possibility of hosting the month-long tournament in May 2022 and categorically ruled out any date in 2023. Infantino said, for him, May 2022 is not an option and January 2023 must be looked at.

“Everybody is familiar with the developments of the staging of the 2022 Qatar World Cup and its place on the international calendar,” Gandini said.

“At the European Club Association, we prefer to have the World Cup squeezed into May, but there are issues related to Ramadan and also the heat. The year, though, is 100 per cent 2022. Fifa have made it very clear: there is no chance for January or February 2023. This is not possible for contractual reasons. It has to be 2022.”

Infantino, however, insisted that nothing is concrete, contracts can be altered and that January would be the least disruptive option.

“Fifa have made it clear that, if it is January, it can only be January 2022,” he said. “But, if January 2023 would be less disruptive, I don’t see a big difference between playing in December 2022 or January 2023. Fifa says legally it is impossible, but where there is a will there is a way.

“If the problems are simply legal, I think there are enough lawyers who could solve that. Legal issues will never be a problem.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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