DOHA, QATAR: FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke on Wednesday ruled out any prospect of Europe’s football clubs receiving financial compensation for the 2022 World Cup being moved to November-December.
“There will be no compensation. There are seven years to reorganise,” a bullish Valcke told a Doha press conference. “We are in agreement with the clubs.”
European associations representing major clubs from England, Germany and France have already expressed their unhappiness with the switch recommended by a FIFA task force meeting in Qatar on Tuesday, amid speculation that some would seek financial redress for the decision.
The task force made a provisional recommendation for the tournament to start on November 26 and end on December 23, 2022, ensuring an enforced break for the domestic European leagues.
Valcke said European clubs should accept the potential switch.
“It’s not perfect we know that but why are you talking about compensation? Again, it’s happening once and we are doing nothing which destroys football. We are just changing the format and the structure of a season,” he told journalists packed into a ballroom at Doha’s Ritz/Carlton hotel.
An unrepentant Valcke added that FIFA had no reason to say sorry to Europe’s biggest clubs.
“Why should we apologise to the clubs? We have had an agreement with the clubs that they are part of the beneficiaries. It was $40 million in 2010 and $70 million in 2014.”
A final decision will be made by the FIFA executive committee at a meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, on March 19-20.
English Premier League boss Richard Scudamore admitted after Tuesday’s decision that he was “very disappointed” by the switch.
Frederic Thiriez, the president of the French league and of the European Professional Football Leagues, also expressed his concern, calling the November-December date “the worst solution”.
A few more details emerged about the unique World Cup on Wednesday with Valcke revealing that the tournament would stretch over 28 days, instead of the normal 32 days. Four games would be played every day in the early stages of the competition, said Valcke.
He insisted that no final decision had been taken on the date the final would be played though FIFA is keen on the 23rd but others, including the English, have expressed a preference for the 18th.
The Confederations Cup will also be moved from Qatar in 2021 and played in a different “Asian country”.
– ‘Problems’ –
Valcke also addressed the controversial issue of workers rights and said he had been to see for himself the working and living conditions for those building World Cup facilities. He conceded there was still improvements for Qatar to put in place.
“It’s clear that there are problems and there are things to be solved and there is an ongoing discussion with ILO (International Labour Organisation) and different organisations,” said Valcke.
Workers’ rights in Qatar have long been a controversial issue since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the tournament in December 2010.
Rights’ groups have accused Qatar of appalling conditions for workers and say any reforms brought in by the country have been too slow.
Earlier this month, Qatar announced it was introducing a system to ensure migrant workers would be paid at least once a month, a move long called for by groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.
But groups are calling for more changes including reform of the controversial “kafala” sponsorship system, which enables employers to prevent foreign workers from leaving the country or change jobs and has been likened to modern-day slavery.
Valcke however added that there had been improvements put in place.
“I have to say that if the standard for all construction sites in Qatar reaches the level of standard we have for all the specific World Cup construction sites, then a big step will be contributed to these working conditions and that will be part, again, of the power of the World Cup.
“In a nutshell I am very happy with what we have seen.”
Hassan Al Thawadi, the head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, said the tournament would “leave a lasting legacy for future generations in the Middle East”. (AFP)