Bundesliga CEO rips FIFA over Qatar World Cup 2022
LONDON (AP) — The head of the Bundesliga criticized FIFA on Wednesday for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, saying the decision "is not for the good of the game."
Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert, speaking in London ahead of the all-German Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, said staging the tournament in the tiny desert nation's summer heat could endanger the health of players and fans.
"The priority is always first the health of the players and this is what makes me most upset that the decision was done that ignores probably the health of the players and that ignores what is real in the game," Seifert said. "If you make a decision which is so far away from the sports perspective if it turns out only to become, let's say, politically driven, sports politics decision, then this is not good for the game ... I'm not sure of the credibility of FIFA. Maybe first they should change the claim — because this (Qatar) is not for the good of the game."
FIFA will not move the World Cup to winter without the request coming from Qatar — despite FIFA President Sepp Blatter saying last week that it is "not rational and reasonable" to play in the summer heat.
Air-conditioned stadiums to beat the 50-degree C (122-degree F) heat were a defining theme of Qatar's bid, but the cooling technology is for the venues.
Since the vote in 2010, which gave the tournament to Qatar ahead of rival bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States, FIFA officials have publicly expressed concern about the heat.
"We are really happy that FIFA recognizes it's warm in the summer in Qatar. This is a great, great finding," said Seifert, who is also vice president of the German Football Association. "I am absolutely convinced that it is hard, if not impossible, to play a World Cup in the summer in Qatar.
"Maybe you can create an artificial second sky over the whole country or over the stadia but what does that mean for the people in the media who need to work there, what does that mean for the fans who are there?"
If the tournament was moved to the Gulf winter, it would likely be played in January and February 2022 — splitting the Bundesliga season and impacting the start and finish dates of leagues across Europe.
"From other leagues I do have the feeling they are also very upset with the situation — that the decision was done and that a four-week tournament effects maybe three years of running of professional football leagues in Europe," Seifert said. "It shows me which FIFA, as a body which says what's good for the game, ignores completely the day-by-day basis in those leagues who are effectively the core and the heart of football — not the tournament that comes up every four years."
Moving the dates to winter could also spark calls for a re-vote, according to Seifert.
"I am absolutely sure if countries like England see a chance of a re-vote they will force a re-vote," he said.
The English Premier League shares some of Seifert's concerns about a winter tournament.
"We think moving the World Cup to winter is fraught with difficulties and not workable or desirable from a European football perspective," Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson said.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris