Jerome Valcke rules out compensating top clubs for switching 2022 World Cup dates in Qatar

Associated Press

FIFA will not compensate European clubs for disrupting their season by rescheduling the 2022 World Cup, according to the governing body's secretary general.

Jerome Valcke also ruled out apologizing for a November-December tournament that avoids Qatar's summer heat and shuts down top national leagues for several weeks.

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"There will be no compensation," Valcke said Wednesday, the day after a FIFA task force recommended the switch in dates. "We are doing nothing which destroys football. There is seven years to reorganize football around the world for this World Cup."

Compensation was demanded Tuesday by European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who said his members would not bear the costs, including losing lucrative match days.

"I definitely don't feel I need to apologize," said Valcke, who is part of stalled talks to renew a working agreement with the ECA which expired after the 2014 World Cup. "Why should I apologize to clubs?"

Valcke also revealed that UEFA supports playing the 2022 World Cup final on a Friday, Dec. 23.

That claim will raise tension between UEFA and its British members angered by threats to their traditional holiday schedule.

Every World Cup final since 1970 was played on Sunday. Dec. 18 is also an option for 2022.

UEFA acknowledged its support for a final on the Friday before Christmas, when its preferred option of a January tournament was rejected.

"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 December 23," UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto said in a statement.

The 2022 World Cup playing dates will be confirmed at a March 19-20 meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich.

Valcke said one concession to clubs and leagues was planning a 28-day schedule instead of the current 32.

Legal threats to challenge moving soccer's marquee event now appear over, unless a European league takes the high-risk option.

Valcke also acknowledged that awarding Fox broadcast rights to the 2026 World Cup this month averted possible legal action from the American broadcaster, which has NFL and college football commitments in November and December.

The unexpected deal extended Fox's 2018 and 2022 rights, which it bought for $425 million more than three years ago when FIFA was still insisting on a June-July tournament in Qatar.

"We have done what we had to do in order to protect FIFA and to protect the organization of the World Cup and without any breach of any international rules on the business side of this negotiation," Valcke said.

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