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Qatar is the least of football's problems, says FIFPro

ZURICH (Reuters) - The heat at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be the least of soccer's worries given the more immediate concerns surrounding next year's competition in Brazil, the world players' union FIFPro said Monday.

FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen said other important issues such as the transfer system and third-party ownership of players were also being shunted out of the limelight by the debate over the timing of the Qatar World Cup.

"It astonishes me that the media is obsessed with Qatar in nine years' time and does not seem very bothered about the World Cup in 2014," Van Seggelen told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Van Seggelen, speaking after a meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, said travelling and heat were FIFPro's biggest concerns for next year, where some matches are being scheduled to kick off at 1300 local time in tropical venues.

He said players had already suffered the effects of the heat at this year's Confederations Cup, especially at the Fortaleza semi-final which went to extra time.

"I spoke to the Italian and Spanish players after the semi-final and they said it was impossible to play extra time in that heat, and that was a late afternoon kickoff," he said.

"We have to realize that it's not just the quality of the game that is affected, but the players' health could be damaged.

"The travelling is also a problem, you have four-hour flights in some cases and when you have just played a tough game and only have a few days to recover, that also has an effect."

The Dutchman added he was waiting for a detailed report about the conditions in Brazil before taking the matter up with FIFA again.

Van Seggelen said he had a good relationship with FIFA but warned that, after world soccer's governing body failed to consult players over plans for 2014, FIFPro would take a tougher stance in the future.

"Unfortunately, we are going to have to start playing hardball, not because we want to but because we have no other choice," he said.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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