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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bundesliga CEO urges FIFA to listen to clubs before moving 2022 World Cup to winter

LONDON — The Bundesliga's top official has urged FIFA to give more respect to the views of clubs who pay players' wages before moving the 2022 World Cup to winter and disrupting domestic leagues.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he expects the Qatar tournament to be staged in early 2022 due to concerns about the summer heat in the desert nation.
While moving the event to a cooler time of year would be better for players' health, it would force changes to league schedules across Europe before and after the tournament, which usually starts in June.
Most European leagues, including Germany's Bundesliga, run from August to May, while the usual World Cup qualification schedule would also have to change.
"I don't want to say it's not possible, but it would have an enormous impact on the international calendar — and not only for those four weeks but also the whole season, maybe more than one season before and after," Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert told The Associated Press. "Now the international calendar is packed and not enough attention is paid to national league competitions. I'm sure that UEFA and the ECA (European Club Association) is fully aware of the problems."
The ECA, which is headed by Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, meets in Geneva on Feb. 7-8 when the international calendar will be top of the agenda.
Seifert said clubs already get a raw deal by taking a financial hit if their players are injured while on international duty.
"It (Qatar) is an organizational challenge, but obviously somebody also has to remember that you need players to play at the World Cup — players are paid for by the clubs," Seifert said in a telephone interview. "Sooner or later international football will come to the point that the league and the clubs who pay players and have the whole financial risk need to discuss it ... maybe the international tournaments should pay more attention and respect to the clubs, leagues and national fans."
Seifert highlighted the case of Netherlands winger Arjen Robben, who only played his first match for Bayern Munich last weekend since returning from the July 11 World Cup final with a hamstring injury. The German champions only received $778,000 in compensation in total from FIFA for letting 11 players go to South Africa.
Seifert is still waiting to hear more details from FIFA about its plans for Qatar. The impact would also be felt in 2021 when the Confederations Cup will be staged there.
"It was a surprise to hear right now that Mr. Blatter is thinking about January — it's hot in Qatar and that info was already there (at the time of voting)," he said. "We need to discuss this really seriously from different perspectives. Of course it's about the health of the players and the fans who should be there."
Qatar, which beat the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia to the hosting rights last month, would only move the event if FIFA makes a formal request to the organizing committee.