Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says 2022 World Cup should be played in winter
Playing in summer heat in Qatar 'not very intelligent'
Rummenigge also chairs European Clubs Association of 100 top clubs
Demands changes to the football calendar be for a single season only
Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has signaled his support for a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022 but with the crucial caveat that any change to the football calendar must be for a single season only.
The former German international striker is also chairman of the European Clubs Association (ECA), representing over 100 top clubs, including Champions League holders Bayern.
“Everyone of us has the understanding that it is acceptable just to change one season,” he told CNN.
“I know that there may be discussions about a second or third season but that is not acceptable to the clubs or the leagues,” he added.
Ever since Qatar was awarded the rights to host the 2022 finals there has been an ongoing controversy over the dates of the competition because of the climactic conditions in the Gulf state in June and July, when it it is scheduled to be played.
Earlier this month, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke gave a radio interview in France in which he appeared to suggest that the world governing body had already decided to switch to a November starting date to avoid average summer temperatures of between 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and 45 degrees (113 Fahrenheit).
FIFA moved quickly to qualify his remarks, saying the decision was subject to an “ongoing consultation process” with key stakeholders such as the major European leagues.
Rummenigge, 58, told CNN that “it is not very intelligent playing a World Cup in the summer in Qatar when it is too hot, something like 50 degrees Celsius.
“It’s not good for the players or the supporters and it would be wise to find a better date,” he added.
But Rummenigge acknowledged this would not be an easy task, with the English Premier League voicing its opposition to a winter World Cup.
“We have to find is the best date acceptable for leagues, clubs and federation because if you change to the Valcke idea of mid-November to December that would completely change the calendar for the Premier League and Bundesliga.”
He revealed that a survey of ECA clubs, had come out in favor of either a November or January starting date.
But the latter option would lead to a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics and Rummenigge was keen to avoid disrupting the Games. “We have to be careful not to damage a big event,” he said.
Rummenigge was a two-time European Footballer of the Year during his playing career, mostly spent at Bayern.
He also helped Germany to the 1980 European Championships and to the runners-up spot in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.
Currently chief executive officer at Bayern, he has overseen their recent triumphs, which included last season’s triple of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.
Rummenigge has worked closely with club president and chairman Uli Hoeness, who is awaiting trial in Germany for alleged tax evasion.
Rummenigge has stood by his former club and international teammate, who has remained on the Bayern Munich board despite the charges against him, which could carry a jail term if he is found guilty.
At the annual meeting of the Bavarian giants last November, Rummenigge’s words of support for Hoeness moved the 62-year-old to tears and he promised to put himself up for re-election after his trial, which is scheduled for March.
“We hope the outcome will be good for him and he can continue his life work with Bayern Munich,” said Rummenigge.
Bayern will emerge from the Bundesliga winter break of five weeks Friday with a match against Borussia Moenchengladbach with a seven-point lead and still on course to repeat their triple of last season.