Clubs push for May Qatar kick-off


Published: Tuesday 16th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The Qatar World Cup in 2022 could be played safely between May 5 and June 4 rather than in the winter, the European Club Association has argued.

Football’s world governing body FIFA announced last month that the most likely time slots for the tournament would be either January/February or November/December 2022, with the organisation’s medical chief warning that temperatures in the Middle East state between May and September posed a “highly critical risk”.

However, the ECA, in conjunction with the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), has put together a proposal which it feels demonstrates how the tournament could be played in May and June without putting the health of players, supporters and officials at risk.

The organisations also argue that their proposal would have the least impact on the 2021-22 or 2022-23 club calendars, which would need to be seriously revised if either of the options favoured by FIFA is ratified.

A section of the proposal from the ECA and EPFL reads: “The May option is the best alternative to the traditional June-July timing, since it retains the logical calendar order and avoids compressing such an important competition as the World Cup in the middle of the traditional and busy club football season (winter season).

“As such, simply avoiding this concentration makes the May option by far less intrusive compared to all winter proposals.”

The ECA and EPFL propose matches in the group stages – which under their plans would run from May 5 to 19, 2022 – would be played between 6pm and 11pm local time. Knockout matches, starting from May 21, would kick off at either 7pm or 10pm local time.

Under the wet-bulb globe temperature (WGBT) reading, a measure used to determine the level of risk caused by exposure to certain climatic conditions, they argue only games kicking off at 6pm or 7pm could be classified as ‘high risk’, with other games under the WGBT measurement deemed ‘moderate risk’.

They cite two games played at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil – Germany v Portugal in Salvador and the United States v Portugal clash in Manaus, as posing the same high risk, and also report that on-field temperatures at the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil in Pasadena reached 48 degrees Celsius, far higher than any they anticipate being encountered at those kick-off times in Qatar, based on past data.

The proposal document continued: “The May 2022 option provides acceptable climatic conditions with regard to both players and fans. In May the average temperature in Qatar as of 6pm local time is between 30 to 35 degrees Celsius (source: Meteosuisse) and the WBGT index would be ‘green’ (moderate) for most World Cup games.

“In worst case, games would be played in circumstances similar to some cities in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup (Fortaleza, Manaus) and still better than some games played at the World Cups in Mexico (1986) and the USA (1994).

“Moreover, with the support of the cooling systems that the Qatar Local Organising Committee committed to, temperature in the stadiums would be perfect.”

FIFA’s chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak made a presentation to the FIFA task force considering dates for the tournament last month.

He told Press Association Sport at that time: “‘What I have said is that for the players, the accompanying staff and the fans the months June till August are highly critical in terms of risk, due to the climatic conditions in Qatar.

”In May and September it is borderline when it comes to the temperature of high risk but from the medical point of view it is not recommended.

”The months from October until March are actually optimal in terms of the temperature.”

The ECA and EPFL will present their proposal at the next task force meeting early next year, on a date yet to be confirmed.

Published: Tuesday 16th December 2014 by The News Editor

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