European leagues set to agree on plan for 2022 World Cup switch
GENEVA (AP) -- Leading clubs expect UEFA to decide next week on European football's position in the debate about switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the summer to a different time of year.
European Club Association Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge cautioned Tuesday to proceed "carefully'' when the discussion is scheduled at a meeting of UEFA's strategy council in Dubrovnik, Croatia on Sept. 19.
Though the panel is chaired by UEFA President Michel Platini, who favors a winter World Cup, it includes delegates from the 214-member ECA and European leagues' body (EPFL) which include some of the fiercest opponents to changing the traditional June-July dates.
"We will discuss it deeply and hopefully we will find a solution that is accepted by all stakeholders,'' said Rummenigge, the Bayern Munich chairman whose personal pro-winter view is opposed by many member clubs who re-elected him Tuesday.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said his 27-member executive committee, including eight UEFA officials, should decide on Oct. 3-4 that the tournament cannot be played in Qatar's searing summer heat. Blatter told The Associated Press last month that his board would probably oppose summer on principle and request a widespread consultation on finding a better time to play.
A November-December tournament would shut down European clubs and leagues for several weeks and alter the Champions League schedule.
"We have a fantastic running season now,'' Rummenigge cautioned in a later interview with The AP. "It is affecting our business. We have to be very careful now if FIFA would like to move from summer to November or January or, I don't know, autumn or whatever in the end will be the outcome.''
Rummenigge said he had no preference on which months to play, nor did he believe FIFA had pre-judged the consultation it will conduct.
"That is a decision we will have to find together,'' he said, adding that "I don't understand why FIFA would like to do an early decision'' nine years before kickoff.
Despite the uncertainty, the former West Germany great does not believe it was a mistake for FIFA to have chosen Qatar in December 2010, when Blatter's board defied advice that hot temperatures could threaten players' and fans' health.
"I played the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The final was played at 12 noon, in 40 degrees (Celsius) at 2,200 meters (altitude),'' said Rummenigge, who scored in the Germans' 3-2 loss to Argentina. "Maybe it was not very good for my health but we did it.''
Europe's leagues used the ECA meeting to make their own announcement, urging FIFA not to make a "hasty decision'' on rescheduling the marquee tournament
"Such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines,'' the EPFL said in a statement, requesting it should be involved in proper consultation.
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