Berlin: Awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “blatant mistake” Fifa executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said on Wednesday, adding that staging the tournament in winter would be just as big a problem.
German Zwanziger’s attack on the decision to give the Gulf state the world’s biggest single sports event comes after Fifa president Sepp Blatter repeated his view that the finals could not be played in the traditional summer slot.
“It was a blatant mistake,” Zwanziger, formerly head of the German football federation (DfB) told Sportbild magazine, referring to the decision taken by world football’s governing body in December 2010.
Zwanziger, who joined the Fifa executive the following year, also said shifting the tournament to the winter months would put the unity of German football in danger.
“Changing the World Cup to the winter is going deep into the structures of European national federations and also amateur football in Germany. A change in playing schedules does not only affect the Bundesliga but continues affecting lower divisions due to the link with promotion and relegation. The game pyramid is in danger and so is the unity of German football,” he said.
Moving the World Cup to the winter would have a seismic effect on scheduling in Europe.
Many leagues outside Britain have a winter break but would need a hiatus of at least six weeks to accommodate national teams preparing for, and playing at, the World Cup finals.
The English Premier League, despite not having a winter break, has repeatedly voiced its strong disagreement with moving the tournament to the winter months.
“A winter World Cup would mean public viewing with ice skating boots in freezing temperatures,” said Zwanziger.
“If the decision was really a mistake it should be lifted and should not become an even bigger burden for those who are not involved by changing it to the winter.”
Moving the World Cup to January or February would also have an impact on attendances and television viewing figures for other sporting events like the Australian Open tennis tournament, skiing and the Winter Olympics.