Less than a week after FIFA set up a task force to look into when the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar can be held, English FA chairman Greg Dyke said it will never take place in the searing heat of the Middle East summer.
Dyke has no jurisdiction on when the World Cup will be held as the FA do not have a seat on FIFA’s executive committee.
But he told delegates at the Leaders in Football that “anyone who has ever been to Qatar in the summer knows you cannot hold a football tournament there then.
“Even if you have air-conditioned stadiums, what about the fans ? At big tournaments you can queue for an hour to get in. To queue for an hour in Qatar in the summer is very dangerous,” he said.
“The one thing that is certain now, is that the tournament will not be held in Qatar in the summer. And we should all welcome that.
“Now the discussion starts about when it should be held assuming it stays in Qatar and I think we can probably assume it will.”
Dyke also spoke of the FIFA report that analysed all the bids for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and concluded that it was not safe to host the finals in Qatar in the summer, where temperatures can reach 50C (125F).
Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the former chairman of the Chile FA who also chaired FIFA’s Evaluation Group into the bids, ranked Qatar as fourth out of the five bids for the 2022 finals and said in an interview before the conference that in his opinion FIFA ignored his group’s findings.
He was set to expand on that when he addressed delegates later, but Dyke said it was well known his report had been ignored by the FIFA executive committee.
“They knew,” he told moderator Christian Purslow, the former chief executive of Liverpool. “They had a safety report which warned them.
“Qatar bid and they went through a proper process and they won. We today are saying, ‘isn’t it a bit odd that they won,’ but they won and therefore if you are going to change it you have to have a reason to change it.
“The weather is not the reason to change it because they all knew about the weather. The report was there -- they were warned about the heat but they made a football decision and chose not to meet it I think.”
Mayne-Nicholls, speaking ahead of his address, told the Daily Telegraph: “We need to change the system of how we elect who will be hosting the World Cup. We cannot keep this system it has too many imperfections.
“When we made the report, they had a look at it, but the decision was made before.”
As well as establishing a committee to look into the timing of the finals, Michael Garcia, FIFA’s ethics chairman has started a global tour of the 11 countries involved in the nine bids for the two finals.
His remit is to speak to as many officials as possible to establish whether there are any grounds for re-running the votes.
Russia won the race for the 2018 finals ahead of joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium and England. Qatar won the 2022 race from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.
However, Garcia’s task seemed to be pre-empted last week by FIFA president Sepp Blatter who said that the World Cup in 2022 would be staged in Qatar no matter what. Blatter also said he favoured the 2022 finals being moved to the winter months.