Winter Olympics should move for Qatar, say clubs

Frank Dalleres
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WINTER Olympics chiefs should be prepared to move the Games in order to accommodate the Qatar 2022 World Cup if the tournament is switched to January, according to Europe’s leading club body.

The European Club Association yesterday played down talk of stripping Qatar of hosting rights and staging a re-vote, admitting bringing the World Cup forward to January was more likely.

AC Milan director Umberto Gandini, who is also vice-chairman of the ECA, said that might mean the Winter Olympics, which would traditionally be held at that time of year, also moving.

“Fifty to 60 per cent of clubs have a winter break in January-February, so there is a window there,” Gandini said at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London.

“A World Cup is one of the major events in the sport landscape; the Winter Olympics is not there, with respect. If you are moving the World Cup to winter, don’t tell me it’s not possible to move the Winter Olympics a little bit.”

Fellow ECA vice-chairman Pedro Lopez Jimenez – also Real Madrid vice-president – said controversy around Qatar’s winning bid amounted to “looking for scandal”, while ECA chair Karl-Heinz Rummenigge emphasised that any decision to move the tournament to winter would need to be taken in close consultation with clubs.

“The bill at the end can’t be paid by the clubs,” said Rummenigge, chairman of Bayern Munich.

“They need the goodwill of the clubs otherwise we are not ready to talk. Seventy-six per cent of all players at the last World Cup were contracted to European clubs and members of the ECA. It’s quite clear they need good will of ECA to change date. It’s looking like you can’t play it in summer, but if there is a wish to change they need the goodwill of the ECA.”

World governing body Fifa is currently reviewing plans to move the World Cup from its regular summer slot to winter for 2022.

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