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Soccer-Clubs want to be part of winter World Cup talks

Reuters

(Updates with ECA comments, changes dateline)

By Brian Homewood

GENEVA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - European soccer clubs want to be involved in discussions over a possible winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and have urged FIFA not to rush a decision, saying there is "no hurry".

Soccer's governing body FIFA will meet next month to discuss a proposal from president Sepp Blatter to shift the finals to the northern-hemisphere winter because of the searing heat in Qatar in the summer.

The European Clubs Association (ECA), which has more than 200 members, said on Tuesday that it wanted to be consulted before any decision was made.

Another organisation, representing the European leagues, set out obstacles to the move as it also urged FIFA not to rush a decision.

"I personally believe there is no hurry and I don't understand why FIFA would like to make an early decision at the next executive committee meeting in October," ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a news conference.

"I think that nine years is more than enough to do this very sensibly and prudently, in the best interests of football.

"We have to be very sensible to find the best solution which will be accepted by all stakeholders in the football family, because it affects our business," added the former West Germany, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan forward, who is also Bayern Munich chairman.

"If there is a change, the clubs, the leagues, the associations and the players have the right to be heard and to discuss the best solution with FIFA concerning a change for the World Cup."

He said the clubs would discuss the matter with European soccer's governing body UEFA before their executive committee meeting in Croatia next week.

BLATTER SURPRISE

Rummenigge said he was surprised by Blatter's comment in an interview on Monday that it might have been a mistake to award the tournament to the tiny Gulf state.

"I don't know why he did that because they already decided in favour of Qatar and that's it," he said.

"I don't believe it was a mistake, it was a political decision in favour of Qatar to bring the World Cup to an Arabian country, and that's it.

"We accept it and everyone accepts it and it's not nice for the people in Qatar to always hear these kinds of comments."

Earlier, the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) said FIFA should consult widely before making any change to the regular schedule of playing the World Cup in June and July.

"Such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines," the EPFL said in a statement.

As well as disrupting club competitions, the EPFL said a date change would have an impact on player contracts and the transfer system which is based on a European season running from August to May.

It also noted a potentially damaging clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, another major attraction for sponsors and broadcasters.

The EPFL called for a medical assessment of the impact of a summer World Cup on the health of players and fans before any decision was made.

English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has argued that a winter World Cup could disrupt the European soccer calendar for up to three seasons because of the knock-on effects of having to stop and start a campaign. (Additional reporting by Keith Weir in London; editing by Tony Jimenez and Clare Fallon)

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