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Fifa's Geoff Thompson backs Qatar 2022 World Cup stance

Mohamed Bin Hammam
AFC president Bin Hammam (right) has been tipped to replace Sepp Blatter (left)

By David Bond
BBC Sports Editor

England's Fifa executive committee member Geoff Thompson says Qatar should honour its commitment to play the 2022 World Cup in the summer unless there is clear medical evidence which proved players are at risk.

Thompson's comments come after Mohamed bin Hammam, Qatar's Fifa vice-president, dismissed calls to move the tournament from a June start to January because of the country's punishing summer temperatures.

Thompson added that he was "disappointed" there was now growing pressure to change the timing of the tournament after the controversial decision to award the event to the tiny country had been taken by his fellow Fifa executive committee members in Zurich last month.

"This should be a proper discussion and it is disappointing to me that people are talking about moving the tournament when Qatar bid to stage it at a certain time," Thompson told the BBC.

"It was never discussed at any [executive committee] meeting. At the end of the day, people are bidding for the World Cup at the appropriate time. The bidding document is clear about when it should be.

"We may believe that there is a risk but until we are presented with a medical report which shows clearly that people's health is at risk, until we get something concrete, then we shouldn't move it."


Asian Football Confederation president Bin Hammam told the BBC last week Qatar was ready to stage the World Cup in the summer.

He added in a separate interview on Thursday that he was "unimpressed" by recent comments from Fifa President Sepp Blatter and Uefa President Michel Platini.

Blatter said last Friday he now "expected" the World Cup in Qatar to be moved from summer to winter to protect the players, while Platini argued it would make sense for the small nation to share games around other Gulf states.

But Bin Hammam said: "I believe Qatar can stand alone and organise the competition by itself. And I'm really not very impressed by these opinions to distribute the game over the Gulf or change the time from July to January.

"It's actually premature, it's people's opinions and they're just discussing it on no basis or no ground.

"We are very happy and we are promising the world that we are going to organise an amazing World Cup in June and July."

Bin Hammam, who has been tipped as a successor to Blatter, said both he and Platini were wrong to suggest potential changes so openly.

"It's not up to one, two or three members of Fifa to talk about changing the time without getting the real stakeholders' opinions," he said.

"I know that football in Europe has quite a history, it is quite a business involving a lot of financial, media, marketing - a lot of things.

"It is unfair to these people that we talk about changing the calendar or the time without their full consultation and their full approval and agreement - I'm actually not happy to see that happening without the real stakeholders' part of this discussion."

On Thursday, Iran's coach, Afshin Ghotbi, said it would be better to re-open the contest than to allow other Gulf nations to co-host with Qatar.

Blatter backs winter World Cup in 2022

"I think if they are now talking about sharing it with other countries, I think it is very unfair to the United States, to Australia, all the other countries that were bidding at the same time," he suggested.

"My feeling is if they want to take a decision on that then they should go back to the bidding countries and ask them to bid again.

"Qatar has shown it can host it, so it should be here and it should be in the winter time - that is a logical change, but it is not fair to talk about changing the venues at this stage."

Qatar has insisted that its small size will be an advantage as it will enable visiting fans to easily travel between games.

Fifa awarded the finals to the Gulf country last month ahead of rival bidders Australia, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approached Fifa to ensure that match dates for the 2022 Cup do not clash with that year's Winter Olympics.

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see also
Platini proposes Gulf World Cup
12 Jan 11 |  Football
Blatter expects January World Cup
07 Jan 11 |  Football
Players want 2022 winter switch
21 Dec 10 |  Football
A World Cup miracle
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Qatar keeps cool as heat is turned up
25 Nov 10 |  Football
Small is beautiful for Qatar in 2022
08 Oct 10 |  Football

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