Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said on Wednesday that the 2022 soccer World Cup finals will not be played in the blistering hot summer months in Qatar.
Valcke said the tournament would probably be played at some point between November 15 and January 15 when temperatures in the desert state would be comfortable for players and fans.
The timing of 2022 World Cup has been a long-running debate.
Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup by Fifa in 2010, winning the hosting rights ahead of the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
Its bid was based on a summer World Cup, despite the searing temperatures. Qatar has argued all along that it will build air-conditioned stadiums using environmentally-sustainable technology. However, there have been concerns for visiting fans and about training facilities for teams
INTERNATIONAL MATCH CALENDAR
The dates for international competitions are fixed by soccer’s governing body Fifa. Its international match calendar runs in four-yearly cycles ending with the World Cup.
The calendar for the next cycle, from September 2014 to July 2018, was ratified by Fifa in March last year after a lengthy consultation process which ended the previous September.
This means that the schedule for the 2018-2022 cycle, which would include the Qatar World Cup, would have to be finalised in mid to late 2016.
The first mention of a possible winter World Cup was made by Fifa president Sepp Blatter on December 17, 2010, 15 days after Qatar was awarded the finals when he spoke at a news conference in Abu Dhabi during the Club World Cup.
“I definitely support the idea to play in winter here in the Middle East; to play when the climate is appropriate and I’m thinking about the footballers, not only the fans,” he said then.
“It’s a question of the international calendar but again it’s in 11-and-a-half years but it should be possible with the will.”
It was widely assumed that January and February would be the most obvious alternative, as they are the coolest months and this period coincides with a winter break in many European countries.
European Clubs Association (ECA) president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge suggested that the tournament could be staged in April, saying it would be less disruptive to the international calendar.
“In April the temperatures in Qatar are really quite pleasant,” Rummenigge, whose association represents more than 200 European clubs, told Germany’s Sport Bild weekly.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said on Sunday that Blatter had proposed November 2022 as the best period. “I have spoken with president Blatter a couple of weeks ago when he made the proposal to have the World Cup in November 2022,” he said.
This would avoid any danger of a clash with the Winter Olympics at the start of the year.
MOVE TO SUMMER FOOTBALL
There is support in Europe for a switch to summer football, with 2022 presenting the perfect excuse for such a move.
“Everywhere, be it Germany, France or England, summer is the best period of the year and that is the season we don’t play,” Rummenigge told France Football in January.
“In deepest winter, when it is very cold and snowing, we play nearly all the time in conditions that are disagreeable for both players and spectators. It is not logical. My
sense is that we are heading straight in this direction.”
Uefa secretary general Gianni Infantino also said summer football would be more pleasant.
“You see people in the stadiums with hats and scarves,” he told the Times newspaper in an interview. “Why did England, who brought us this beautiful game, decide that football is for the winter and not for the summer? Cricket.
“The month of June, which is the most beautiful month to play football, is hardly ever used except for the Euros and the World Cup.”