REJECTING proposals to switch the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter would be tantamount to discrimination, according to world football chief Sepp Blatter.
The Middle Eastern country controversially won the vote to host the tournament during the summer, but Blatter wants to move it to cooler months, despite opposition from Europe’s top leagues, whose calendars would face major disruption.
“If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a World Cup can never be played in countries south of the equator or indeed near the equator,” said the president of world governing body Fifa.
“We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than in Europe, and make it impossible for all those who would love to host the world’s biggest game in a global tournament to do so.”
Blatter has asked Fifa’s executive committee to discuss rubber-stamping the switch next month.
He has admitted “it may well be that we made a mistake” in awarding the tournament to Qatar in 2010 when the country’s climate difficulties were known.
“On the other hand, you must also consider political and geo-political realities,” he added. “I think it’s high time Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in far away places.”
Umberto Gandini, the vice-president of the European Club Association, which represents top sides, said he felt that it was “almost inevitable” that the 2022 World Cup would be moved.