Friday kickoff: FIFA eyes winter World Cup, Houston signs Freeman and more

  Blatter

By JOHN BOSCHINI

In a move that threatens to drastically alter the international soccer calendar, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and General Secretary Jerome Valcke expressed interest in moving the 2022 World Cup to winter in order to avoid the sweltering summer months of Qatar.

Blatter said in a press conference that he "definitely" supported a move from summer to winter because "it is important to play when the climate is appropriate and I'm thinking about the footballers, not only the fans," the embattled president said.

The average temperature for Qatar during June and July hovers around 122 degrees and concerns have been raised about the safety of players and fans. Valcke said that a move away from the summer would be dificult because it would require a change in the international calendar and would require support from the most of the world's domestic leagues. Valcke also said the move would probably require executive committee approval.

Here are some more stories to get your Friday going.

Dynamo signs Freeman

The Houston Dynamo has acquired the rights to New York Red Bulls right back Hunter Freeman in an attempt to shore up a defense that was among the worst in the MLS last season.

Freeman, 25, is a former member of the U.S. U-17, U-20 and U-23 teams and has spent the last two seasons in Norway playing for IK Start. The transfer is expected to be announced at a press conference today.

Sounders sign Swedish midfielder Friberg

Months after the Seattle Sounders cut ties with tempremental Swede Freddie Ljunberg, the Sounders have added Erik Friberg from Swedish first-division side BK Hacken.

The 24-year-old should help shore up a midfield that lost Sanna Nyassi and Nathan Sturgis in the expansion draft. Friberg has scored five times in 94 appearances playing in the left side of midfield.

Scholes out, Lampard in for Manchester United vs. Chelsea clash

Machester United and Chelsea might be headed in opposite directions on the Premier League table but the return of Frank Lampard for the Blues and the absence of Paul Scholes for the Red Devils has evened the playing field.

Reports out of England say that Lampard is scheduled to make his first start in nearly four months after struggling to return from a hernia problem. Scholes, 36, is expected to be out until at least January with a groin injury, according to the club. The two teams square off Sunday at 11 a.m.

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What do you think of today's news? Should the World Cup be moved to winter? Will Freeman and Friberg make a difference? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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66 Responses to Friday kickoff: FIFA eyes winter World Cup, Houston signs Freeman and more

  1. DEAC says:

    Here’s an idea, Sepp: How about playing football in a PLACE that’s appropriate for it?
    And here’s another question: If you throw the club calendar off by two months, how happy will the players for FC Barcelona or Roma be playing their late-season matches in June? Will the Champions League final be on the fourth of July?
    All so you and your minions can award the 2022 World Cup to a place that has no business holding it at any time in any year?
    Spain, England, Germany — rise up! Do not allow clowns like Beckenbauer, Blatter and Platini to railroad you into this. They clearly do not care about the game.

  2. Dan the Man says:

    Hey MLS is already on the right schedule for this!

    Maybe Sepp should shut up about trying to get MLS to play in the snow in the winter now.

  3. Paul says:

    So Blatter is just now realizing that it’s hot in Qatar in June and July? This whole thing just gets more ridiculous by the day. It’s the scandal that keeps on giving.

    Isn’t this the same guy who is pressuring MLS to change its entire schedule in order to sync up with his precious international calendar.

  4. Hincha Tim says:

    Finally, Sepp gets his wish: the MLS and FIFA calendars align!

  5. Rory says:

    Qatar hosted one of the U-17 or U-20 world cups a few years ago and they had the tournament in April. I guess even FIFA then realized the folly of a summer world cup in Qatar.

  6. Rory says:

    GOOOOOOOALLLLLLL!!!!!

    Awesome post.

  7. Uhohh says:

    Agreed – they care about the money. And Qatar has the money.

  8. DC Josh says:

    FIFA has completely embarrassed themselves. Thank you for ruining world football.

  9. maka says:

    wonder how far the 10 million dollar bribe story will go

  10. Oranje Mike says:

    Not far. FIFA is a joke and expected to be corrupt. Jokers.

  11. scott says:

    agreed!! +1.

    US & MLS are ahead of the curve.

  12. Alex G says:

    this is the dumbest and most implausible thing FIFA has done in years, I can´t believe we’re still under their corrupt and inadequate rules.

  13. Canchon says:

    Hope the clubs tell FIFA to go pound sand…but then FIFA will come running with big fat brown envelopes to the heads of the various clubs/associations to make them change their mind.

    Qatar better up their budget by $300 mil to account for this.

  14. Steve C says:

    It was in 1995, so few = 15.. but yea… we get the point. =]

  15. JoeW says:

    True–and a beautiful post acknowledging it!

  16. BellusLudas says:

    What a farce! Blatter had this calendar change in mind BEFORE awarding Quatar 2022. Now they won’t have to air-condition the whole country with technology that was promised but never could be delivered.

    FIFA is corrupt to the core and needs leadership with integrity.

  17. BellusLudas says:

    Ah…you beat me to it…well done…+1!

  18. Tony in Quakeland says:

    I hate to say it but moving the games makes sense. The have 12 years to accomodate a one year shift. A number of European leagues take a winter break anyway. The can just start the season a couple weeks early, end it a couple weeks later and it’s managed.

    Which is not to say I support having the Cup in Guitar, or have it’s called. But if it is there, this change makes sense.

  19. JoeW says:

    As I think through the logistical issues with this (for instance, changing transfer windows, aligning contracts so players don’t become free agents mid-season), my heads swims–the logistics on this switch just for Europe (let alone Asia and S. America and Africa) are immense.

    I also wonder if it creates problems for the US. Assume a WC held in January. Unless we go with an entirely Euro-based team, we’d be incredibly rusty (even with a month-long training camp). OTOH, hold it in say…November and it works out quite well for MLS–time for domestic players to do a bit of healing yet still be in good shape and match fit. I imagine we’d want to train in Tucson (hot, dry climate) rather than the usual bases of LA or Florida (for winter camps).

    As for the idea of clubs or Europe revolting, I think what people forget is how corrupt things are at the national level. FIFA is positively well-behaved compared to most of the Central American and African federations. Franklyn Foer’s book (How Soccer Explains the World) has a powerful chapter about Brasil’s “top hats”. Naw, I’m convinced that most of the FA members of Cameroon and Nigeria and Honduras and Brasil and other such places view FIFA as a place to go to for retirement–when you’ve finished having to work hard for your payoffs and expect to kick back and just have it handed to you–sort of like a corruption resort if you will.

  20. SeattleStan says:

    But holding the World Cup in new locations allows them to “build” the sport, so to speak. For example, in 2026 the World Cup will be played on the surface of the sun. I wish people would stop being so xenophobic about these areas that deserve to have the world cup held there just as much as we, who have infrastructure, safety, and temperatures that would not melt tungsten.

  21. William the Terror says:

    Is it just me, or does anybody else have this weird feeling that after Brazil 2014 there may be a major uprising of UEFA, Conmebol and Concacaf away from FIFA and towards some new world tournament?

  22. babica says:

    It’s just you.

  23. Fred Garvin says:

    Moving the Goal posts.. good job Sepp

  24. jonk says:

    What is the actual average temperature in Qatar in June and July? Every article I see on this uses a different number and it seem to be climbing. 110…115…122?

  25. Reece says:

    Nope, you made this bed Sepp. Now go lie in it.

  26. SeattleStan says:

    212

  27. Second City says:

    “I’m thinking about the footballers, not only the fans,” the embattled president said.

    – – – –

    This is pure comedy everytime I read quotes from this sad excuse of a human being.

    I agree with the poster Reece above me. Since you were paid off to award Qatar, do so. Don’t punish the clubs/players because you suddenly remembered the climate temperatures.

    Without having extensive knowledge of the parameters, I sincerely hope that clubs push back vehemently towards rearranging the schedule for Blatter’s benefit.

    A revolt should/could and hopefully will…be in order in the coming years.

  28. john.q says:

    can’t believe this organization governs the world’s most popular sport. what a JOKE.

  29. Chad says:

    Why would the Euro leagues and clubs agree to altering their seasons?

  30. Duck says:

    The fullback positions are going to be competitive in Houston next year. Graye was brought in for depth, but Freeman was probably signed to push Hainault for a spot. Hainault seemed OK in the games I saw, but maybe I missed some huge mistakes in other games (the overall defense was terrible last year, too).

    So far, I like Houston’s off-season moves. Garey, Graye and Freeman aren’t spectacular players, but solid and inexpensive. The squad is getting a bit younger, too, but not to the point of deleterious inexperience.

    Ives and John, I like section titles that are bold and larger font. Looks cool and keeps it organized.

  31. Luke says:

    If I were an exec at one of the top European teams, I’d tell FIFA to stick their idea “where the sun don’t shine!” Even in it’s current format, many clubs are reluctant to release players for international duty. That is why FIFA has to mandate that clubs have to release players on scheduled international days. Can you really blame the clubs? It’s not like FIFA or the national FA’s are paying the players the majority of their salaries. Most of the players playing time and development comes from club soccer and not international duty. In Southern Europe, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, extending the season into late June, temperatures could be a concern as well.

  32. jig says:

    hmmm, how is world football ruined? seems fine to me right now.

    I really don’t feel all that different about a host being named for a world cup 12 years from now.

  33. Aquaman says:

    What if these huge leagues don’t agree to change their schedules (I mean, it is about money for them also)? Would this be the only tournament played by players from leagues not on the FIFA calendar?

  34. Thorpinski says:

    No I think there are others who would agree with you. Soccer is the biggest sport in the world and it’s run by organized crime. A little competition from the likes of the US, England and a few others could shake things up.

  35. Andy in Atlanta says:

    however in December… currently for the next several days it will be a steady 77 high and 63 low…sounds damn pleasant to me.. also we wont have all the hot northern Euro chicks getting half naked because it is 138F outside…which will cut down on all the whippings and prosecutions…

  36. nam says:

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if not being awarded the World Cup in 2022 had a greater positive impact on MLS than the other way around?

  37. Charles says:

    What redblooded American can hear the name Friberg ( pronuonced FrEEberg ) and not start singing ?

    “and this bird you can not chaAaAaAange !!! ”

  38. KJ says:

    Shows how little thought and planning actually went into the bid decisions. Morons.

  39. WeatherManNX01 says:

    Didn’t FIFA come out during the bid process and pretty much shoot down the idea of anyone holding the World Cup outside of June/July? Because this would upset me greatly to have that initial ruling then decide to bend over backwards for Qatar.

  40. Josh D says:

    Excellent, haha!

  41. Dustin says:

    This is all going to be hysterical if by some miricle the price of oil tanks. We’ll all be playing soccer in a gutted desert wasteland.

  42. Day late, a few million dollars short says:

    So Dandy Don and MLS in an attempt to get in sync with the FIFA calendar finally makes the shift in a few years only to once again have FIFA change their mind and have the World Cup 2022 in the middle of the MLS season. Brilliant.

  43. Willardo DuPont says:

    If UEFA left FIFA interntional soccer would turn into chaos.

  44. USA_A_OK says:

    that’s because everyday their CO2 emissions raise the average projected temperature

  45. Adrian says:

    This is actually incredible for the rest of the world.

    The FA, MLS, and La Liga will undoubtedly tell FIFA to go fornicate themselves, and FIFA will be screwed.

    The best thing the United States could do is issue a travel ban to Qatar or surrounding nations during the World Cup for health concerns.

  46. Willardo DuPont says:

    I thought we were…

  47. Adrian says:

    So when scientists develop a method for extracting zero-point energy within the next few years, and the oil and gas industries collapse in the worst economic disaster in history, and Qatar’s economy is destroyed, what then Sepp?

  48. Juding Amy says:

    Enjoyed this haha.

  49. Judging Amy says:

    Don’t have anything new to add, just want to pile on. Blatter sucks.

    I feel bad for the Qatari people, its not their fault their FIFA reps are corrupt. I’ve been among those essentially dumping on their country, but I really believe it is an unsuitable location for a WC.

  50. JoeW says:

    Ha-ha–great pun! (lay vs. lie)

  51. fischy says:

    Beats missing their top players.

  52. K. Bowen says:

    It’s good to see that the Qatar World Cup was so well thought-out that they’re already looking at a major change of plans two weeks after it was awarded. That speaks so well of the process.

  53. Andy says:

    Lumps of coal for Sepp Blatter and FIFA this year. Either that or Santa bypasses FIFA headquarters completely and lets the Krampus visit them.

  54. Supsam says:

    haha love the pic of blatter

    Sepp: if uncorrupt can be measured in meters then i would be this uncorrupt

  55. MSnats says:

    I was thinking the same thing when i first read this. I remember seeing it. Beckenbaur suggested it, but sepp(tic) shot it down publicly.

  56. MSnats says:

    At FIFA hq it’s always winter but never christmas.

  57. Glaing says:

    I remember Grant Wahl brought up a key problem with a winter WC. Money from TV rights. As crazy as it may seem, TV broadcast rights money from the US is a huge cash cow. A winter WC would affect this because of the NFL playoffs. It will be interesting to see how much this costs FIFA. Of couse they will sell the rights to Al Jezeera for more oil money.

  58. Knowles says:

    Maybe this ridiculous f***head should have considered the summer heat before giving the world cup to a country situated in the middle of the desert

  59. Big Smoke says:

    Actually, lie is correct in this situation… but I like where your head is. I find it funny also…

  60. Neruda says:

    As has been said the Winter WC would work great with MLS. But hey at this point 2022 seems like a world away. Things could be drastically different by then. At the very least I hope Sepp Blatter will have disappeared.

  61. dc divided says:

    were not even gonna get past 2012 anyways guys…..

  62. matt says:

    Here is another problem I have with FIFA. They’re siding with this country in all aspects, being Qatar’s little b*tches so they can reunite. Winter huh? Students won’t be able to watch the world cup as often, TV ratings will definitley be down. Students have school, and there are many other sports going on in the USA at the time that would rather be watched like the super bowl. Fifa is screwing up too much

  63. Doom Boy says:

    Question re. Freeman:

    Didn’t the Red Bulls trade Freeman’s rights to Toronto? I distinctly remember him playing for them – or did his rights get traded back to NYRB sometime between then and now?

  64. herb says:

    Nice photo. Blatter looks like a deranged pitbull.