Premier League will accept winter World Cup: Richards

LONDON (AFP) - Outgoing English Premier League chairman Dave Richards believes his organisation will have to drop its resistance to the idea of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being played in the European winter.

English football is unusual among the continent's major leagues in having no winter break and many Premier League officials are determined nothing will happen to disrupt the lucrative competition from running as normal.

But there is growing global momentum behind the idea the intense heat in Qatar during June and July, when a World Cup might usually be expected to be staged, risks the heath of both players and fans exposed to temperatures of 50 deg C and so makes a switch to a 'winter' date all the more inevitable.

Richards, speaking to Sky Sports News at the Securing Sport conference in Qatar, said: "I think they will play (the World Cup) at a time that is proper for football but they will have to speak to the leagues in Europe.

"They will have to agree proper times when we can start and finish.

"At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe. For us, at this minute, the answer is no.

"But, if we take a proper view, we have to find a way to have a winter spell where we don't play and I think common sense will prevail.

"We've got Fifa now saying that medical people are saying that they can't play in Qatar in the summer because of the heat, which is probably right.

"I think over the next few years, things will change and they will come to a compromise." However, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has always been adamantly against such a switch and a Premier League spokesman said on Tuesday their position had not altered.

"The Premier League's view remains unchanged. We are opposed to the concept of a winter World Cup for very obvious practical reasons that would impact on all of European domestic football."

Earlier this month Jerome Valcke, general secretary of Fifa, became the first official from football's world governing body to accept there was a case for moving the World Cup.

"The Fifa ExCo (executive committee) has the power to make decisions and if at the FIFA ExCo this issue starts to be a real point for discussion then why not, and then again maybe the FIFA ExCo will say based on medical reports or whatever we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer, but in winter," he said.

"I am not saying that the case is closed, but what I'm saying is as long as we have not fixed the international calendar all alternatives are open."

Uefa president Michel Platini has reiterated his call to move the Qatar tournament to winter and Valcke said the fact the international calendar had not been fixed beyond 2018 made moving the 2022 finals possible.

"Qatar has to tell us, 'we want to move the World Cup from summer to winter'," Valcke said.

"I can tell you there is no working group within FIFA thinking and working on what it means to move the World Cup from summer to winter for the time being.

"The international calendar has been agreed for 2015-2018, meaning that we kept open all potential for period 2019 to 2022. We have time."

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