World Cup in Qatar 'impossible' in summer, says Greg Dyke

 

A summer World Cup in Qatar in 2022 would be "impossible", says Football Association chairman Greg Dyke.

Dyke, who took up his FA role last month, thinks the tournament is likely to move to winter because of the heat.

The Premier League opposes a change of dates, while Dyke's predecessor David Bernstein said in June that any switch would be "fundamentally flawed".

But Qatar's World Cup organising committee says it is ready to host the tournament in summer.

"Even if all the stadia are air-conditioned, I think it will be impossible for the fans," Dyke said.

"Just go out there and wander around in that sort of heat. I just don't think it's possible.

David Bernstein

"I personally believe that the domestic league season should remain more or less the way it is now, running from August to May.

"I think football is a winter game, that the public greatly enjoy their football through the winter and that we should think very carefully before we take football away from the public in the winter."

David Bernstein, then-FA chairman, arguing against moving the World Cup on 7 June

"My position, and I suspect the FA's position, will be: 'You can't play it in the summer.'"

The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee told BBC Sport in a statement: "It was the right decision to award the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time in 2022.

"We are ready to host in summer or winter. We have always maintained that this issue requires the agreement of the international football community.

"A decision to alter the dates of the 2022 Fifa World Cup would not affect our infrastructure planning."

The Premier League is understood to be surprised and disappointed by Dyke's comments, as it wishes to join forces with the FA in opposing a change of date.

Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, said in July that switching the Qatar World Cup to winter would cause chaos  for football leagues around the world.

His organisation believes such a change would have an impact on the three domestic seasons around the tournament - most notably 2021-22 - affecting broadcast deals and requiring every player's contract to be rewritten.

In 2010 Qatar defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to be awarded the 2022 World Cup.

The bid has been plagued by allegations of corruption, although organisers have always insisted they did nothing wrong.

Analysis

"Greg Dyke was in relaxed but firm mood today as he spoke to journalists about one of the biggest issues in football, wasting little time in making his mark as the new FA chairman. Until today, the governing body had avoided taking a position on Fifa's hugely controversial decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.

"Dyke sympathises with the Premier League, who are vehemently opposed to a winter tournament, but his insistence that a change of schedule or location is required for the sake of fans is bound to cause friction with the clubs.

"Two and a half years after Qatar was awarded the event, pressure is now mounting on Fifa to end the uncertainty, with a decision pencilled in for October.

"For years, football has wrestled with how Qatar won the right to host the tournament. Now debate will focus on when it should take place. The fall-out could be as litigious and divisive as anything the game has ever seen."

Dan Roan

Temperatures in the Middle East state can reach 50C in the summer, and Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted in March that the tournament might be moved.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter said in May it was "not rational" to play in such heat.

But shortly before stepping down as FA chairman, Bernstein said there should be no change.

"The bid was for the World Cup to be played in June and July, and for it then to be moved to the winter would be fundamentally flawed," he said.

"If people want it in the winter, they should bid for it on that basis."

Dyke, though, believes a move is inevitable, and suspects there is likely to be legal action as a result.

The 66-year-old, who has visited Qatar in June, added: "Fifa have therefore got two choices. They can move it either time-wise or to another location. I suspect either will end up in some sort of litigation. But then someone should have worked that out in 2010 when it was awarded.

"I understand the reaction of the Premier League in not wanting to move it, and I have some sympathy with them.

"We didn't have to choose to give it to Qatar in the summer. But that's where it is, and I think it will either have to be moved out of the summer or moved to another location.

"I suspect that the former is more likely than the latter."

FA general secretary Alex Horne said any change to the international calendar would trigger complications for clubs, national associations, leagues and competitions around the world.

"It's a big jigsaw that'll have to be put together and it'll take months. The last time we did this it took 18 months to agree a calendar which is the one we're looking for 2014-18, so it won't be quick to fix it if the decision is that we think it should be other than in July," he said.