Qatar's 2022 World Cup 'likely' to be held in winter
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The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not be held in the summer due to fears that the heat could pose problems for players and fans, a FIFA official said Wednesday, though the sport’s governing body immediately denied a final decision had been made.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the championship will likely be held "between November 15 and January 15 at the latest".
"The dates for the World Cup will not be June-July," said Valcke, FIFA's second in command, in an interview with Radio France.
"If you play between November 15 and the end of December that's the time when the weather conditions are best, when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging 25 degrees (Celsius)," Valcke said.
"That would be perfect for playing football," he said.
His comments led to a shocked response from FIFA vice president Jim Boyce who said that only the world governing body's executive committee could decide when the World Cup would be played.
"The situation, as far as I'm aware, is that the FIFA executive committee was awaiting a report set up by all the stakeholders involved in the World Cup - television companies, leagues, sponsors - meeting between now and the World Cup in Brazil,” he told Sky Sports News.
"The plan was that there would be no further discussion on the World Cup in Qatar until December at the end of this year.
"I am totally shocked to be honest.”
Boyce added that he could ‘100 per cent’ confirm that no decision to move the World Cup had been made.
A statement later released by FIFA said Valcke was giving "his view" on the subject, rather than the organisation’s official stance.
No decision before Brazil
It added that no decision on the dates of the 2022 World Cup would be made before this year’s tournament in Brazil.
The scheduling of the competition has been hotly debated ever since the 2010 decision to award the tournament to Qatar, where the average temperature in the summer months can be around 35C (95 Fahrenheit) and 45C (113F).
However, moving the World Cup to winter could pose scheduling problems for domestic football leagues around the world, as well as disrupt the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, which is scheduled to take place in January.
In October, FIFA delayed a decision on the scheduling of the tournament, saying it was setting up a consultation process to decide when to stage the finals.
At the time, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said it would reach a conclusion sometime after this year's World Cup in Brazil.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)