Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Harold maybe you've cracked it

Harold Mayne-Nicholls, whose technical report warned FIFA of the health risks associated with playing the 2022 World Cup in the heat of Qatar, has suggested evening kick-off times could be the solution.

Under the Chilean's proposals, the tournament would begin a month earlier in May 2022 and games would kick-off at 7pm, 10pm and 1am local time to avoid the worst of the heat, or at least the sun.

In May the average temperatures for Qatar range from 27C to 39C (81F-102F) as opposed to between 29C and 42C (84F-108F) in June.

With Doha only one hour ahead of continental Europe, advertisers and marketers could still cash in on television broadcasts at reasonable times, while the big US market would benefit from the switch from afternoon kick-offs in the Middle East.

On the east coast of America, games would start at noon, 3pm and 6pm, although the California market would have to make do with 9am, 12pm and 3pm.

The Far East would have a harder time, with kick-offs in Beijing at midnight, 3am and 6am, and in Japan one hour later.

While the FIFA Executive Committee is still expected to back a switch to the 2021 winter and potential clashes with the Winter Olympics, Superbowl and European soccer leagues, Mayne-Nicholls is angling for a challenge to President Sepp Blatter in next May's FIFA elections.

To that end he has issued this proposal in the hope of attracting support in the run-up to the application deadline at the end of January 2015.

The controversy surrounding the decision to award the 2022 tournament to a country with little football heritage and extreme temperatures continues to rumble on, with FIFA reluctant to release Michael Garcia's corruption report.

With no action on 2022 expected before the Spring of next year at the earliest, it appears as if FIFA is trying to delay as much as possible so that Qatar can start building infrastructure, which would reduce the likelihood of a switch of hosts.

But the inescapable issue of the searing heat of summer there, which Mayne-Nicholls rightly flagged up in his famously ignored report, remains an almighty headache for world football.


(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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