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Friday, January 14, 2011

Exclusive: 'Fifa Split Over 2022 World Cup'

9:19am UK, Friday January 14, 2011
Ian Dovaston, sports correspondent

There is strong evidence of a split among the powerful Fifa committee which controversially awarded the World Cup to Qatar, Sky News has learned exclusively.

The Europe-Middle East schism has been revealed by the man in line to take over as the governing body's president.
Doha-born Mohamed Bin Hammam, who was among the 22 Fifa executive committee members involved in the vote last month, has countered suggestions that matches in the Qatar tournament should be shared around the Gulf.
Mr Bin Hammam, who could succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa's president as early as this May, also rounded on suggestions from Europe that the competition should be moved to January to avoid the oppressive Middle East summer heat.
'I believe Qatar can stand alone and organise the competition by itself,' Mr Bin Hammam told Sky News.

We should modernise ourselves in such a way as to reflect the real stakeholders - member associations, leagues, clubs, players, coaches... The structure is not helpful or useful for our world
Qatar's Fifa executive committee member Mohammed Bin Hammam

'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, you know, it's people's opinions and they're just discussing it on no basis or no ground.'
Chief among the movers for a Gulf-wide experience in 2022 have been Mr Blatter and the Uefa president Michel Platini, while Mr Blatter and Franz Beckenbauer, who is standing down from the all-powerful Fifa executive committee, have talked of moving the competition to January.
Mr Bin Hammam, who offered a coy "no comment" when asked if he would stand for Fifa president this year, appears to be setting out his manifesto, with the message that Europe's members on the executive committee cannot dictate to a worldwide game.
England FA's general secretary has added to European executives' reservations, describing a switch to January in Qatar as a 'logistical nightmare' because it would require a winter break in the Premier League.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter talk to reporters after an executive committee meeting in Zurich.
Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has come under fire over voting decisions

But Mr Bin Hammam told Sky News: "Its not up to one, two or three members of Fifa to talk about changing the time without getting the real stakeholders' opinions.
"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," he said.
"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 their full agreement - I'm actually not happy to see that happening without the real stakeholders' part of this discussion."
It is clear Mr Bin Hammam remains adamant that the 2022 tournament should happen in June and July.
Fifa's general secretary, Jerome Valcke, confirmed to Sky News that, in order for a change to January to happen, Fifa would need an official request from the Qatar FA, but there has been no such approach.
And Mr Bin Hammam, its former president, dismissed the chances of making any such request.
"We are not interested - we are very happy and we are promising the world that we are going to organise an amazing world cup in June and July."

Al-Khor stadium
An artist's impression of a Qatari stadium that will be built

Qatar's bid document promised air conditioned stadia and training facilities in order for players to cope with temperatures which can soar well above 40C.
Mr Bin Hammam denied that Mr Blatter didn't want Qatar to win the bid for 2022.
"The day we won the World Cup Mr Blatter called me in the evening and told me he is the happiest person on the Earth today because Qatar has been awarded the World Cup - so I don't think he's not happy."
As the 51-year-old President of the Asian Football Confederation, Mr Bin Hammam has accepted that the world governing body must reform and be "more transparent" to escape a reputation for corruption, highlighted by the run up to the World Cup bid announcement.

Prince William and David Beckham in Zurich
Prince William and David Beckham helped with England's recent bid

"It's an organisation which is more than 104 years old," he said.
"We should modernise ourselves in such a way as to reflect the real stakeholders - member associations, leagues, clubs, players, coaches," he said.
"A lot of things could be done. Maybe the actual administration can do that, they have to commit themselves to doing that.
"The structure is not helpful or useful for our world," Mr Bin Hammam said.