Boyce: Boxing Day games protected

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Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Britain’s FIFA vice-president is confident the Boxing Day club matches will be protected when the world governing body announces the final dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Friday.

Jim Boyce, from Northern Ireland, sits on the FIFA executive committee that will make the decision on the dates of the tournament which is being played in the winter to avoid the fierce heat of June/July, and he believes that moves to stage the 2022 final on December 23 will be defeated.

UEFA has been pushing for December 23 but FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in February the final would not be staged later than December 18, which also happens to be Qatar’s national day.

The most likely outcome of the meeting is that FIFA will announce a shortened tournament starting on Sunday November 20 and finishing four weeks later on Sunday December 18.

Boyce, who steps down as FIFA vice-president in May, told Press Association Sport: “There is no way you can have a World Cup final on December 23 and then have a lot of people all trying to get home for Christmas.

“December 18 has to be the absolute deadline and in Britain that would allow the club programme to resume their fixtures on Boxing Day.”

The FIFA executive committee is meeting in Zurich where it is to be updated with Qatar’s plans for improving the conditions of migrant workers following revelations about appalling conditions for some in the construction industry.

Boyce added: “FIFA is now monitoring this and it has to make sure that progress has been made. FIFA is concerned about this and it is something FIFA is trying to rectify.”

Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore said last month he felt “let down” by UEFA’s push for a December 23 final. A UEFA source said the European governing body would accept December 18 if that was the consensus as there was still enough time to plan to accommodate the necessary changes.

UEFA president Michel Platini on Wednesday responded to Scudamore’s remarks saying: “It’s not only the Premier League in the world. There are many leagues, many players, many clubs.

“I always said that it would be a winter World Cup. I always said I will vote for Qatar but that I will do my best for it to be in winter and I hope it will be in the Gulf.

“I’m totally coherent with what I said four years ago, totally. I work for what I am convinced is good for football.”

Published: Wednesday 18th March 2015 by The News Editor

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