MELBOURNE (AFP) – The 2022 World Cup in Qatar looks increasingly likely to be played in November and December to avoid the region’s blazing summer heat, Asia’s football supremo said.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who heads the FIFA taskforce charged with investigating potential dates for the 2022 World Cup, told reporters in Sydney that it also made sense to avoid a calendar clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“The period best suited for hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be in November and December because for sure it needs to be played in the winter,” he said on the sidelines of the Asian Cup.
The shaikh added that his working group had decided that a winter World Cup was in the best interests of all parties. “The matter (winter timing) is resolved,” he said.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has previously expressed confidence that FIFA president Sepp Blatter will ensure the World Cup does not overlap with the Winter Games.
Blatter has acknowledged that the controversial 2022 World Cup cannot be played in its traditional June-July slot as average temperatures in Qatar soar to nearly 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), raising health concerns.
While a winter World Cup now looks likely, football’s world governing body has also been asked to consider a spring option, on the urging of European clubs.
Blatter and FIFA secretary general Valcke favour playing the tournament in November and December 2022 while UEFA boss Michel Platini would prefer January to avoid clashing with the Champions League.
Not only the timing of the tournament has been difficult — the bidding process for hosting rights has also been investigated over allegations of corruption.