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Winter World Cup should be accepted, says FIFA chief Jerome Valcke

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke says that the world's governing will not apologise to clubs for the decision to play the 2022 World Cup in the winter, or give them compensation.

With temperatures soaring dangerously high during the Qatari summer, a FIFA working group recommended on Tuesday that the tournament be moved from its traditional summer time slot to being played in November and December 2022.

That provoked a furious reaction from some clubs and leagues, particularly in Europe, with Premier League chief Richard Scudamore, a member of the FIFA task force that made the decision, especially unhappy.

European Clubs' Association (ECA) chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Tuesday said the clubs would demand financial settlements for the disruption, but Valcke told a news conference in Doha after a Qatar 2022 organising committee board meeting: "It's not perfect, we know that -- but why are we talking about compensation? It's happening once we're not destroying football.

"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.

"We are bringing all our people to enjoy the sporting and financial results of the World Cup. I definitely don't feel I have to apologise for the decision made yesterday to confirm that the World Cup will not be played in the summer.''

He added: "Most confederations say they want the World Cup to end on Dec. 23.''

Valcke also appeared to confirm the deal to extend the USA TV rights deal with Fox to include the 2026 World Cup had been done to avert the threat of any legal action over its 2022 deal.

He said: "We have done what we had to do in order to protect FIFA and the organisation of the World Cup.''

UEFA's chief of press Pedro Pinto confirmed the European body wanted Dec. 23 as the final after its initial preference for January was rejected.

He said in a statement: "UEFA and its national associations had initially preferred for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in January. However, once the FIFA task force recommended to stage the competition from late November to late December 2022, UEFA suggested that an option could be for the final to be played on Dec. 23.

"The details of the calendar and various options will now be discussed at the next FIFA executive committee meeting on March 19/20."

Meanwhile, FIFPro president Philippe Piat has given his backing to the switch of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter.

Piat, 72, who is head of the body representing players' unions, said the players would be happy to play at any time except in the scorching summer heat.

"As for FIFPro, this is what we had to say: it's not us who gave the World Cup to Qatar, so it's not up to us to do our mea culpa. As far as the timing of the tournament is concerned, we said we were 100 percent opposed to playing in summer given the very high temperatures, but apart from that, we can play whenever," said the Frenchman, who was part of the FIFA group looking at when the tournament should be played.

"I went twice. There was a last meeting in Doha, but I didn't go because I was not going to say the same thing for a third time."

Piat's reaction was in stark contrast to that of French Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez, who told AFP the working group's recommendation was "the worst of solutions" for European leagues.

"I leave you to imagine what will happen in France, Germany, Spain, Italy...We're going to stop at the start of November, after 13 or 14 games. And we'll start again in January, two months later," he said.

Jerome Valcke wants to put an end to the anger over the decision.

"During that time, players won't play, clubs won't have revenue, football fans won't have national competitions and TV companies will be furious and will ask for money back."

The La Liga authorities also came out against the proposal, saying they too would prefer the competition to take place in May.

LFP president Javier Tebas attended the meeting of league representatives, however his association soon released a statement backing the Premier League stance and saying a winter World Cup would be too disruptive to European club football.

"La Liga, represented by its president Javier Tebas, today attended a meeting of the FIFA task force, the group charged with finding the dates for the Qatar World Cup," the statement said. "The latest proposal was to hold the tournament between Nov. 19 and Dec. 23, 2022. The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), headed up by La Liga and the Premier League, showed their opposition to the new proposal, saying through an official statement it 'will perturb and cause great damage to the normal running of the European domestic competitions.'

"The European Leagues and Clubs have reaffirmed their position of wanting to hold the Qatar World Cup in the month of May, which is an acceptable time of year given the climate and favours both the players and fans. The final decision will be announced on March 19 during FIFA's Executive Committee meeting."

Information from Ian Holyman and Dermot Corrigan was used in this report.

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