Football: FIFA likely to delay decision on 2022 World Cup dates

Football: FIFA likely to delay decision on 2022 World Cup dates

LONDON - Despite widespread speculation that FIFA will vote to switch the dates of the 2022 World Cup on Friday, football's world governing body will probably delay making a decision and instead set up a task force to analyse the huge implications of moving the tournament from the searing heat of the Middle East summer.

Although the executive committee could agree in principle to move the dates of the World Cup, FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told Reuters it should not rush into a decision and he wanted a task force set up to examine the issue.

"We will discuss when the World Cup will be held (and) we will also consider the plight of immigrant workers in Qatar whose harsh living and working conditions made headlines last week," he said.

Thomas Bach, the new president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said he doubted the World Cup would clash with the Winter Olympics in 2022, if the finals were moved from their traditional June and July dates, adding that FIFA was likely to opt for November 2022, if it switched.

In a development related to the vexed situation regarding the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 finals to Qatar on the same day in December 2010, Michael Garcia, the head of the investigative unit of FIFA ethics committee, will tour all the countries involved in the bidding processes, he was quoted as saying in France Football on Tuesday.

Garcia, a former US Attorney in New York, is examining allegations of corruption in the voting that led to the awarding of the two World Cups.

A highly-placed FIFA source told Reuters the game's world governing body now had to grapple with a huge political, social and financial problem of its own making.

"This is because the executive committee members who awarded the finals to Qatar in December 2010 ignored recommendations from FIFA's own inspection report group that ranked Qatar second from bottom among the five contenders. They should never have chosen Qatar. It was flawed from day one."

Boyce, who joined the executive committee six months after the vote was taken, told Reuters in a telephone interview from his home in Belfast: "I don't think there is any possibility of a decision being taken about moving the World Cup this week.

"What should happen next is that all the stakeholders, the major clubs from around the world, the major leagues, TV rights holders, sponsors, everyone needs to get around the table and have their say.

"Although UEFA's 54 members have agreed it would be best to move the World Cup away from the summer, all the implications need to be studied in detail.

"And don't forget, we don't need to rush into this. The World Cup is still nine years away, we have plenty of time.

"But we also need to look very closely at the conditions of the immigrant workers who are building the infrastructure in Qatar and will be building the stadiums there for the World Cup.

"I was appalled and upset after last week's stories that dozens of immigrant workers had died as a result of the conditions in Qatar and that thousands of others are being ill-treated. We cannot allow that.

"These people must be protected and their basic human rights safeguarded."

While FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his 27-strong executive committee struggle with the problem of when to stage the World Cup, the political implications of any decision they subsequently make will have far-reaching consequences.

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