Wednesday Kickoff: FIFA’s Valcke backs winter World Cup; Former pro Hitzlsperger announces he is gay; and more

JeromeValckeFIFA3 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

If FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke had his way, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would be played in the winter.

In an interview given to radio station France Inter, Valcke claimed that the ideal time for the World Cup to be played in the Persian Gulf nation is beginning in November and ending in either December or January. The Qatar organizing committee have continued to prepare for a World Cup taking place in June/July and FIFA announced last month that a decision on the dates won’t be made until December 2014.

“The dates of the World Cup will not be in June or July. I think it will be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest,” Valcke said. “If you play between November 15 and, let’s say, the end of December, it’s the time when the weather is the most favorable. You play with a temperature equivalent to that of a rather hot spring in Europe, you play with a temperature of 25 degrees (Celsius), which is perfect to play football.”

In response, FIFA released a statement, saying that Valcke was only speaking on “his view” of what should happen in the World Cup and that his words didn’t represent those of FIFA. The statement added that FIFA are undergoing a consultation process with all of their stakeholders and sponsors and the process won’t be rushed.

Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:

FORMER ASTON VILLA, STUTTGART MIDFIELDER HITZLSPERGER COMES OUT AS GAY

Recently retired midfielder Tomas Hitzlsperger has become the first German soccer player to reveal that he is gay.

In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit, Hitzlsperger announced that he was coming out, saying that it was the right time to do it, nearly four months after retiring from professional soccer due to a series of injuries.

“I am expressing my sexuality because I want to promote the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes,” Hitzlsperger said. “Only in the last few years did it dawn on me that I would rather live with a man.

“I was never ashamed of how I am,” Hitzlsperger added.

Hitzlsperger’s announcement follows that of former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Robbie Rogers’ 11 months ago, when he at the time retired from soccer before deciding to come back with the Los Angeles Galaxy this past season.

After retiring last September, Hitzlsperger ended a career that saw him play more than 100 games with Aston Villa and Stuttgart, as well as short stints with West Ham, Lazio, Wolfsburg, and Everton. The 31-year-old also represented the German National Team 52 times between 2004-2010, starting the Euro 2008 final where Germany fell to Spain.

Since making the announcement, numerous people have expressed their support of Hitzlsperger, including former national teammate Lukas Podolski and the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Steffen Seibert.

QUICK KICKS

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made his first signing since taking over at Cardiff City, signing Norweigian midfielder and former Manchester United product Magnus Wolff Eikrem. (REPORT)

AS Roma completed the signing of former Cagliari midfielder Radja Nainggolan on a four-year contract, with Roma paying Cagliari €3 million now with a further €6 million in June if they decide to buy him. (REPORT)

West Ham forward Andy Carroll is back in training and could be on the bench in the next week. (REPORT)

Bayer Leverkusen and Germany National Team midfielder Sidney Sam has made his move to FC Schalke official, moving at the end of the season for only €2.5 million. (REPORT)

Lyon rejected a €15 million plus €2 million in add ons bid from Napoli for midfielder Maxime Gonalons. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Agree with Valcke’s comments? Proud of Hitzlsperger for coming out?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: FIFA’s Valcke backs winter World Cup; Former pro Hitzlsperger announces he is gay; and more

  1. quozzel says:

    This is utter and complete BS.

    Qatar bid on the 2022 World Cup, and their bid included promising to deliver revolutionary new AC technology that would allow the WC to be played [i]in the summer[/i].

    If they had bid on moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter, they never, ever would have won the bid.

    If FIFA tries to ram this through, there’s going to be a mutiny.

    • froboy says:

      Agreed, this is so absurd, seems like there was an under the table agreement already in place. So much corruption in all of this.

    • DC Josh says:

      Glad to hear another professional athlete has come out. Hopefully the masculine arena of sports can get over it—-realize it is not a big deal and move on—-and get back to enjoying sport for what it is.

      • DC Josh says:

        Oops didn’t mean to reply. Oh well…

        • David says:

          I am going to reply to your reply by agreeing with your original. I don’t really care about the sexual preferences of a player. Can he play? That’s what I want to see. This guy was good player with a terrific left foot shot from distance. If I recall, he had a number of injuries (ankle or knee, I can’t remember specifically) that slowed him down and probably caused his early retirement.

      • Jamie Z. says:

        Gay or straight, he’ll always be “Der Hammer”.

      • SilverRey says:

        Gay air conditioning is fine by me, but I don’t know how well it will go over in Qatar.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I do think in this instance they are trying to salvage a World Cup that should never have been awarded. To award a summer World Cup to the middle east, you have to buy a lot of tech nonsense about cooling breakthroughs and artificial clouds and such. I don’t necessarily like going to night games for the Astros and Dynamo in mid-summer in Houston, much less a day game in the middle of the desert.

      That being said, at some point of corruption and foolhardiness this is on FIFA as much as Qatar.

      However, the premise that you shouldn’t be able to win a World Cup hosting proposing a winter tournament is something I disagree with. Some of the posturing is circular reasoning about how we should all be on an August-April calendar like England and always play our tournaments in their offseason, hence any tournament off that schedule is bad. And while Australia should probably get their tournament in their “winter,” Argentina might be pleasantly played in their “summer.”

      • Boyd says:

        Agree. This is the “World Cup” and if at some point accommodations have to be made to allow every region of the world to hold it then so be it.

        • Nate Dollars says:

          it’s the “world cup” because every region competes in it.

          if i recall correctly, for 70 years the world cup was only held in europe and south america (except for a couple in north america), and it seemed to be pretty successful.

          this recent globalization effort for world cup hosts is simply to tap into new (and arguably more corruptible) money markets, nothing more.

          • Boyd says:

            WOW!!! REALLY! you mean to tell me that FIFA is trying to introduce more people to the Word Cup so they can make more money!!!! Is that why they gave it to the US in 94?!!!!
            I’m sure this is news to you but some of us knew all along.
            As far as “more corruptible”, the World Cup has been “corrupt” since the very beginning .
            Just because you didn’t know about it it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              in your enthusiastic sarcasm, you managed to miss the point that i was responding to:

              it’s not a ‘world cup’ because everyone gets to host it.

              it’s a ‘world cup’ because everyone gets to compete in it.

              • Joe Timbres says:

                Nate nailed it. Qatar basically violating human rights and being catered to isn’t s shocker. Neither is FIFA being corrupt as it falsely lauds “Don’t cross the line” or “Fair Play” and craps the bed on this. They don’t have to give it USA, but for goodness sakes, don’t sandbag fans or the regions bidding to host behind this, AND THEN add another layer of switching it to a period 7 DAMN MONTHS EARLIER!!

      • Stir Crazy says:

        Their not going to abandon it now, it’s too late for that with all the stadiums Qatar is already completed or working on that they’ll never really use after the WC.

        Billions of oil money was holed up to these FIFA, they’ll never throw down the gauntlet when trying to justify Qatar

        Foe da love Of $

        • slowleftarm says:

          I don’t think they’ve built a single stadium. All the more reason to award the 2022 world cup to the US or Australia as soon as possible.

      • quozzel says:

        It’s really pretty simple. Somebody – probably the English and most of UEFA, along with the Americans – is going to propose the obvious – hey, let’s form our own federation, set up our own “World Cup”, and host it where we damn well feel like.

        I would be very surprised if England, Germany, USA, and a number of other countries end up sending their national teams to Qatar, whether or not the “official” FIFA World Cup ends up being played there or not.

        Best guess is that we wind up with two competing world soccer administrations and a really messy situation. But unless FIFA cleans itself up (and why would it, at this point?) and becomes much more transparent and apolitical and starts holding itself to a much higher standard in holding itself to, you know, actual standards, and stops making up the rules as it goes along, there will be a mass mutiny.

    • AcidBurn says:

      You must be new to dealing with FIFA if you think there will be a mutiny if FIFA decides to ram this through. FIFA does what they want because money solves a lot of problems. (And Qatar has even more money than FIFA).

      FIFA does what they want and you say “thank you sir, may I have another.” It’s Seppy’s world, we are all just living in it.

      • quozzel says:

        Why?

        In the real world, political divisions, splits, civil wars, and divorces happen all the time. That’s the reason there’s 180 countries on the globe instead of one big happy family.

        FIFA is doing things that don’t serve key members of the organization. In particular the English FA isn’t going to stop the EPL for six weeks; neither is the Bundesliga or Serie A, just because some Qatari oilmen threw money at FIFA reps and bought themselves a World Cup with promises they started backing away from a month after they won their bid. Nor is Rupert Murdoch going to be happy that he shelled out all this money for TV rights to an event that will then be pitted against the Super Bowl and college football’s bowl (and now playoff) season…that’s a billion-dollar suit about to happen. That’s just a handful of the problems that’ll go down. Nor is the USSF happy that a bid they know perfectly well they should have won got bought out from under them.

        A winter World Cup in Qatar ain’t gonna happen…or at least, it ain’t gonna happen with FIFA remaining intact. This is a one-way ticket to a massive FIFA split. Watch and see.

        • Joe Timbres says:

          Exactly there is no damn way that the established leagues who bring the talent to the WC who pump in damn near $87 trillion (rough estimate) into player’s salaries and a season that has been there since time and memorial are going to just up and say, “Hey, it’s Qatar, let’s just cater to their whims.” Hell to the no.

        • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

          Where would they hold a WCup in this mutiny?

          Maybe a place with stadiums in place ?
          Maybe a place that still has the all-time attendance record ?
          Maybe a place with perfect weather year round ( in different part of the country ) ?

    • NC Jeff says:

      Big-time clubs already hate losing their top players to international duty (especially when they get hurt). Now, FIFA’s going to demand that they modify their schedules to accommodate what would be a middle-of-the season World Cup? I’m not sure “mutiny” isn’t the correct word.

  2. Brain Guy says:

    Besides whatever corruption and shady dealings occurred during the bid process, the FIFA/Qatar mess is galling because they are changing the rules, not just in mid-stream (a la MLS player acquisition) but AFTER the process has been completed. This is akin to deciding, after the 2000 presidential election, that it would be better to award the election to the popular vote winner (Gore) instead of the (yes, disputed) electoral vote winner (Bush).

    • quozzel says:

      Very similar to the way they changed the rotational system…after Europe got theirs. They were supposed to rotate continents after every World Cup cycle.

      By the time North America gets another Cup, it’ll be a minimum of 2026…some 36 years since the continent last had one. And if we don’t win the 2026 bid for whatever reason, Europe comes back in play for 2030 and it’s HIGHLY doubtful we win that bid. 2034, South America and Asia are back on the table…so if we don’t win 2026, it’ll be 2038 (minimum) before the USA gets another go – meaning, one World Cup for North America…in 48 years. And you know FIFA, with its eye forever on new frontiers, will give China a WC whenever it bids, so it could well be longer than that. If China throws its hat into 2026, it doesn’t matter that Asia already got 2022; FIFA will cheerfully change the rules again.

      Considering there’s six continents, and one of them (Australia) has less than 100 million people, that’s pretty durn poor.

      • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

        There are a lot of moving parts and most of it is conjecture (what fun would this be without it?), but there are two things to keep in mind here:

        1. FIFA will always bend/change rules to accommodate UEFA, and it’s highly unlikely that UEFA will ever have to go more than 2 cycles/12 years between hosting.
        2. The 2030 tournament is the 100th anniversary of the first World Cup in Uruguay. You have to think FIFA will play on that and award a bid, whether sole or joint with a country like Argentina, to Uruguay. I know Uruguay doesn’t have the infrastructure to host a modern-day tournament, but that little detail has never stopped FIFA before.

        With those 2 things in mind, I think 2026 (despite it technically being against the rules) goes to UEFA. Otherwise Europe would have to wait 16 years between tournaments, and I doubt FIFA would want to do that.
        So, I’d think it would look like this:
        2018 – UEFA (Russia)
        2022 – Asia (Qatar)
        2026 – UEFA
        2030 – CONMEBOL (100th anniversary tournament in Uruguay)
        2034 – Up for Grabs
        2038 – UEFA
        2042 – Up for grabs

        That would leave 2034 up for grabs between Asia, CAF and CONCACAF. I’d really, really hope that the 2034 tournament would go to CONCACAF – 40 years is long enough to wait – but I think you’re right that the minute China puts in an eligible bid, they win. If we don’t get 2034, we’re looking at 2042. Which makes me really, really thankful that I got to go to a game during the 94 WC.

        • ElMetrofan says:

          I don’t think EUFA is getting the World Cup so soon after 2018. 2034 maybe if your reasoning is that CONMEBOL would host the centennial. The Concacaf has a great chance. Last Euro WC as in 2006 (Germany) 4 world cups apart.

  3. Mason says:

    November into December/January? So the end of the NFL’s regular season and the beginning of NCAAF’s bowl/playoff/whatever season? That’s not gonna create scheduling nightmares for Fox.

    I wonder what Rupert Murdoch’s lawyers have to say about this.

    • Chris says:

      Probably not, due to timezone differences.

      • Mason says:

        Not so fast. FIFA likes to schedule matches so that they can hit CET prime time. In 2014, the final is on a sunday at 1600 local (UTC-3) so your CET start time is 2000.

        Qatar is UTC+3, CET is UTC+1 and the US east coast is UTC-5. A 2100 local start time (which would be 1900 in UTC+1) is 1300 in UTC-5.

    • Boyd says:

      Murdoch will be dead or in prison by then.

    • slowleftarm says:

      No one outside of the US cares one bit about the NFL playoffs or bowl season. And Fox doesn’t show bowls anyway, I believe they’re all on ESPN (unless that is changing with the new playoff). There are plenty of great reasons not to have the world cup in November/December but that isn’t one of them.

      • Mason says:

        The point was not that anyone outside the US cares, only that FOX cares and FOX has lots and lots and lots of lawyers. FIFA will care when Rupert senses the potential for lost ad revenue and tells those lawyers to attack. The single largest deal between FIFA and a broadcast partner is with FOX for US English-language rights, but the problem is FOX already has a much, much, much more lucrative contract for network content on Sundays in the Fall. Move the WC to NOV-DEC, and suddenly FOX has to move a bunch of Sunday games that would have been on FOX to FSC or FS1 or FX. Now FOX has a problem, and due to those lawyers, so does FIFA.

        Regarding your second point: Yes, ESPN has the Playoffs for CFB in 2022, and other college bowls don’t really matter. That still doesn’t eliminate the potential for head to head competition between FOX-based knockout round action and CFB semis on ESPN. At that point, it’s less of a scheduling nightmare and more of a matter of (potential) lost ad revenue due to audience splitting. Cue the lawyers…

        Now… do I expect such a lawsuit to actually happen? Probably not. I expect a settlement wherein FIFA provides FOX a “rebate” to offset lost ad revenue due to increased competition and lower network penetration on Sunday games. It’s just money, and FIFA has demonstrated that it is plenty willing to grease the squeaky wheel and make the problem go away. According to the Telegraph in the UK, such talks have already begun.

  4. Dave says:

    Does anyone know what the signing of Nainggolan means for Bradley? Will he play a similar role and make minutes even more competitive for Bradley? Could Roma be positioning to move Bradley in the window with this move?

    • Scweeb says:

      I know it was a roomer but i had heard the bradley is looking for a loan option. As much as i want him fighting for a spot at Roma i also want him playing.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      it’s my impression that nainggolan is more attacking than bradley likes to play, and they could be planning on selling pjanic or strootman (although i doubt it).

      that said, the addition of almost any midfielder that talented is going to cut into bradley’s playing time, and, unless he’d be happy with just playing cup games next year, he’s either going to have to raise his playing level dramatically, or get a transfer.

  5. JC says:

    Mutiny. I suggest all the national soccer federations that don’t want to put up with this BS elect not to participate in these FIFA/Qatar shenanigans. Hold a tournament at a neutral location with 32 federations that refuse to put up with this. The fans/money/tv contracts will follow the soccer federations they want to support more than the branding of “World Cup”. Just the rebellion alone against the obvious corruption would be enough publicity to make it the most watched sporting event in history.

    • patrick says:

      you have a very cute, but incredibly wrong view of how things work in the international soccer world.

    • ALF says:

      I bet you were that kid that took his ball and went home when things didn’t go his way.

      • Madden's Chin says:

        That’s frankly a ridiculous analogy.

        It would be like taking your ball and going away when you discovered that the other kids around you were paying bribes to be picked before you at kickball even though you are much better and furthermore that the kids picking teams have no intention of actually playing kickball but taking the money and leaving.

      • JC says:

        I bet you were the kid that when a bully asked for your lunch money, you gave it to him because he was stronger than you.

        • Joe Timbres says:

          I bet that you all are hilariously bad at word games!;-) It’d be like taking your ball and going home when octagenarians pic you last in a pickup basketball game. Oh, and you are Lebron James.

  6. DCU fan in socal says:

    Really!…Ives leave the gay news , out of these circuits of soccer news…lets move on…

    • Madden's Chin says:

      The quality of grammar and spelling, punctuation and basic syntax in this comment is about on par with what I expect from mouth breathers.

      Goal.com is infesting us.

    • Rigoberto says:

      Do the rest of us dc fans a favor and stay in Cali.

    • Jamie Z. says:

      Why is that not noteworthy? And furthermore, why is it worth your energy to criticize Ives for posting about it? I couldn’t care less about Liga MX, but I don’t go around mentioning it every time Ives posts about it.

      If it’s on the front page of every major English and German football website, it’s news.

    • Michael says:

      That wacky Phil Robertson, posting on SBI…

  7. El Paso tx says:

    Fuk Qatar!!!!!!! That was USA World Cup and now we gotta wait till 2026 for our USA World Cup. But in 2026 USA will have to compete versus Mexico, Canada to get the World Cup and what if the cops America affect our World Cup hosting chances for 2026.

    • Joe Timbres says:

      There is no chance they pick either over USA. Ok, there is literally a chance, but a snowball’s one in Hades. Mexico with the WC shouldn’t happen over us for obvious reason, transportation and superior infrastructure and Canada I don’t think have the requisite state of the art stadia. I am a homer of course

  8. PD says:

    this is such BS. this is a cabal of powerful people trying to hold on to the small fortunes they’ll make in seeing this bid go through at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars of lost income. this could threaten to make the world cup obsolete, because champions league and powerhouse domestic leagues will surely say no way. The literal and figurative “body count” to making this work just keeps piling up and somewhere folks are going to start pulling back.

    A world cup in the middle east and in parts of the world that help spread the sport is a great idea, but that’s no longer what this is about. But this is corruption on top of corruption coming off the rails.

    Oh and EVERY party that bid in the last process should now sue FIFA to be compensation for the time and materials spend preparing bids it’s increasingly clear that it meant nothing.

  9. user222 says:

    US Soccer Federation, Australian Soccer Federation and all other WC 2022 bidders should unite in a class action law suit against FIFA.

  10. Raymon says:

    FIFA’s next big meeting should be in Qatar. Outside.

  11. Jacknut says:

    Raphel Honeigstein reporting that Hitzelsperger is not on twitter, so the “announcement” is a fake.

    • Joamiq says:

      What does Twitter have to do with anything? According to this, he came out in an interview with a German paper.

  12. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    They are going to do the World Cup during Christmas ? Wow….I just can’t imagine this happening.
    There are a couple of Christians out there..and quite a few that celebrate even as non-Christians.

  13. El Paso tx says:

    This crap of Germany and other European countries changing their season schedule, is bologna and I’m sure MLS is laughing. Look at the Olympics, copa America, European cups……..I just don’t see this happening.
    Many players whine about hot world cups, then why have hot humid muggy seasons.