Awarding World Cup to Qatar was blatant mistake - Zwanziger

BERLIN Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:34pm BST

Theo Zwanziger, former president of the German Football Association (DFB) and member of the FIFA's executive committee talks to the media after a committee meeting in Zurich July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Theo Zwanziger, former president of the German Football Association (DFB) and member of the FIFA's executive committee talks to the media after a committee meeting in Zurich July 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Awarding the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar's desert state was a "blatant mistake" FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said on Wednesday, adding that staging the tournament in winter would be just as big a problem.

German Zwanziger's attack on the decision to give the tiny energy-rich Gulf state the world's biggest single sports event comes after FIFA president Sepp Blatter repeated his view that the finals could not be played in the traditional summer slot.

"It was a blatant mistake," Zwanziger, formerly head of the German football federation (DfB) told Sportbild magazine, referring to the decision taken by world soccer's governing body in December 2010.

Zwanziger, who joined the FIFA executive the following year, also said shifting the tournament to the winter months would put the unity of German football in danger.

"Changing the World Cup to the winter is going deep into the structures of European national federations and also amateur football in Germany."

"A change in playing schedules does not only affect the Bundesliga but continues affecting lower divisions due to the link with promotion and relegation. The game pyramid is in danger and so is the unity of German football."

BIGGER BURDEN

Moving the World Cup to the winter would have a seismic effect on football scheduling in Europe.

Many leagues outside Britain have a winter break but would need a hiatus of at least six weeks to accommodate national teams preparing for, and playing at, the World Cup finals.

The English Premier League, despite not having a winter break, has repeatedly voiced its strong disagreement with moving the tournament to the winter months.

"A winter World Cup would mean public viewing with ice skating boots in freezing temperatures," said Zwanziger.

"If the decision was really a mistake it should be lifted and should not become an even bigger burden for those who are not involved by changing it to the winter."

Moving the World Cup to January or February would also have an impact on attendances and television viewing figures for other sporting events like the Australian Open tennis tournament, skiing and the Winter Olympics.

Blatter said a month after the decision was taken that he expected the tournament to be moved to the winter. Last week he said a summer World Cup in Qatar was out of the question.

Temperatures in Qatar in June and July regularly hit 40C (104f) or higher with 45C (113f) recorded last month.

"You can cool down the stadiums but you can't cool down the whole country and you can't simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup," Blatter told a conference in Austria.

"The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup."

Blatter had previously stressed that any request to change the timing of the 2022 World Cup would have to come from the organisers but said last week that the FIFA executive committee would meet to discuss the issue in October.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Mike Collett and Ken Ferris)

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Comments (3)
robinson99 wrote:
A mistake? I am sure the FIFA board benefitted handsomely from this ludicrous decision. I mean FIFA is a lot richer. But was Blatter out of his mind? FIFA must own shares in some air-conditioning manufacturing outfit. Of course there were no other options, that’s why Blatter took this decision or it was the hand of God.

Jul 24, 2013 10:05pm BST  --  Report as abuse
Lobotomised wrote:
Handing the world cup to Qatar was so utterly moronic that it is in itself proof of the massive corruption that has taken place. That this vile and corrupt individual, Blatter, has been able to remain president of FIFA for so long reveals the corruption deep at the heart of the game. Shame on all national FA organisations for supporting him for so long.

Jul 24, 2013 10:32pm BST  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
I dont know, maybe watching the worlds most well paid bankers in shorts, endure serious potential risks to their health for over 90 minutes, could all add extra to the sense of excitement?

I couldnt care less where they hold it…

Middle of North Korea, next time!

Jul 24, 2013 11:21pm BST  --  Report as abuse
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