Former FIFA official Harold Mayne-Nicholls suggests that some 2022 World Cup matches be held at 1 a.m. local time to protect players from host nation Qatar’s extreme summer temperatures, according to a report. Mayne-Nicholls’ recommendation would allow FIFA to avoid moving the tournament to a proposed November start date.
“You could play the first games at 7 p.m., the second games at 10 p.m. and the third matches at 1 a.m.,” the former president of the Chilean Football Federation told the BBC. “You’d change everything. It would be a couple of hours behind in Europe, and that would help TV.”
Traditionally, the World Cup is held in the summer months of June and July. Faced with concern over Qatar’s heat, top international soccer officials, including FIFA President Sepp Blatter, have proposed moving the 2022 tournament to a November or January start date. “You can cool down the stadiums, but you can’t cool down the whole country,” Blatter said in July, according to ESPN.
Mayne-Nicholls, who led the FIFA commission that evaluated all bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, shares Blatter’s viewpoint. However, he prefers a May start date, which would spare participants the worst of Qatar’s summer heat while also avoiding scheduling conflicts that a winter start would cause for European soccer leagues or the Winter Olympics.
“It’s only an idea. You’d have to investigate a little bit more,” Mayne-Nicholls said. “I have never played in Qatar in May. Let’s organize a youth tournament, invite countries from all confederations, and let’s use this time to see if it works.”
“Then we can investigate and have conclusions, but we cannot keep talking about Qatar from Zurich, we have to check it. And if this is not a solution then we have to find another one.” A FIFA committee will convene in November to examine options for the Qatar World Cup start date. The decision is expected by 2015.
Mayne-Nicholls is reportedly considering a potential run against Blatter in next May’s FIFA elections. As of now, Blatter is a heavy favorite to remain in office, with only former FIFA Deputy Secretary General Jerome Champagne to challenge his re-election.
“I am actually evaluating the situation. It is a very good idea, but I must be careful with the decision,” Mayne-Nicholls told Reuters earlier this month. “If I decide to stand it will not be as a testimonial candidature, I will give my best efforts to win, that will be my goal.”