FIFA will face an intercontinental fight if it attempts to move the 2022 FIFA World Cup from summer to winter.
FOX Sports has joined England’s Premier League in opposing FIFA president Sepp Blatter‘s plan to stage the World Cup in the winter, Bloomberg reports.
“FIFA has informed us that they are considering and voting on moving the 2022 World Cup,” the U.S. broadcast network said in a statement. “FOX Sports bought the World Cup rights with the understanding they would be in the summer as they have been since the 1930s.”
In 2010, Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, beating rival bidders Australia, Korea and Japan and the United States. At the time, Qatari officials promised to build air-conditioned, outdoor stadiums, which would use advanced cooling technologies. However, they seem to have backed away from those plans.
Temperatures can reach 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) in the summer months, and experts say the conditions are too dangerous for players, staff, fans and media.
A debate over when and where to host the 2022 World Cup has gathered steam in recent months. Blatter’s proposal to move the soccer showcase to the winter (when temperatures in the Middle Eastern country are more hospitable to world-class soccer) has drawn criticism, as it would disrupt domestic and continental competitions around the world for at least two seasons.
Qatari officials are open to the idea of staging a winter World Cup, but many are calling on FIFA to move the tournament to a different location altogether.
FOX’s opposition is most likely rooted in the U.S. television market. In 2011, FOX paid FIFA $425 million for rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in America. The broadcast giant did so with the understanding that the tournament would be staged in the summer — a time when there is less competition for viewers from other major American sports.
FIFA’s executive committee will meet on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 to discuss Blatter’s proposal for a winter World Cup. Should FIFA decide to make the monumental switch, it will have to deal with a powerful opponent immediately thereafter.
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