‘La Liga’ challenges FIFA decision to play the 2022 Qatar World Cup during the winter period

Once again, the decision by FIFA to hold the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 has come under fire! It is already under investigation for alleged corruption in connection with the voting for and awarding of the FIFA flag ship event to Qatar.

The Spanish Premier Football League (‘La Liga’) is not happy about the decision of FIFA, taken by its Executive Committee in March 2015, eighteen months after seeking a global consultation of its member associations, to switch the actual playing of the 2022 World in Qatar from the traditional June-July period to a November-December period, to avoid the Qatari summer heat, with average daily temperatures of 41degrees Centigrade (106 degrees Fahrenheit), and has challenged this decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

La Liga claims that this decision will force the top European Leagues to shut down for eight weeks during the normal intensive mid-season, and will also require more summer fixtures to be held as a consequence of this change. As a result, La Liga claims that it will lose €65 million by moving the tournament from summer to winter.

In support of this claim, La Liga has filed before the CAS three independent expert financial reports.

No hearing date for these proceedings has yet been set by the CAS and the actual legal grounds for the La Liga challenge have not been made public – proceedings before the CAS are confidential. Hearings are normally held within four months of the completion of the filing of the legal submissions by the parties, unless there are sporting reasons for expediting them.

The President of La Liga, Javier Tebas, claims that, in bringing this claim before the CAS, he is acting “in defence of the interests of the clubs that are contributing to the international teams” that will play in the tournament.

It should be noted that FIFA has already rejected a proposal by European clubs and leagues to play during the period May-June.

It will be very interesting to see, in due course, what the CAS makes of this legal challenge, and also the reasons for their actual decision, which, in view of the wider importance of this case, are expected to be published.

 

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer, Academic and Author and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’.