World Cup 2022: European clubs want spring finals in Qatar

Qatar World Cup
Qatar was controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup by Fifa's executive committee in 2010

Europe's leading clubs will next week ask Fifa to hold the Qatar 2022 World Cup between 28 April and 29 May.

Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010 but an inquiry over moving games from the hot summer months has been ongoing.

The European Club Association (ECA), includes Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich,

Key details of the ECA proposal include starting the 2021-22 season two weeks early and playing the latter stages of the FA Cup after the World Cup final.

With the World Cup final scheduled for 29 May, this would result in English football's premier domestic cup competition finishing in June.

The ECA, which represents 214 of the continent's biggest teams, believes this approach, which could also affect domestic cup competitions in France and Spain, offers the least disruption.

What is the European Club Association?
Representative body made up 214 European top football clubs
Formed in 2008 by 16 founder members including Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid
Also includes Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain
Each of Uefa's 53 national associations is represented by at least one club
Chaired by former West Germany player Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

However, Uefa would prefer the Qatar World Cup to be played in January and February 2023, given their opposition to the range of dates currently under examination.

That option remains unlikely, having been previously dismissed by Fifa officials, who say the World Cup host agreement demands that the tournament is played within the calendar year of 2022.

In contrast, the ECA are confident their proposal ensures there would be no impact on international confederation competitions, such as the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Sepp Blatter, president of world governing body Fifa, says he believes November/December 2022 is the ideal date.

This remains the most likely to be adopted, but is opposed within Europe as it would affect the Champions League.

Proposals for January/February 2022 have also been ruled out given an agreement between Blatter and IOC president Thomas Bach that the World Cup will not clash with the Winter Olympics.

Other measures required to make the ECA plan work include clubs playing an additional two or possibly three midweek fixtures.

Proposed Qatar 2022 Stadium in Doha
An artist's impression of one of the proposed 'air-cooled' stadiums in Doha

The Uefa Champions League round of 16 would have to take place over two weeks, instead of the current four.

A two-week period in March 2022, currently set aside for international fixtures, would also need to be scrapped.

Players would start to be released by their clubs just ten days before the beginning of the World Cup on 18 April.

"In our opinion, this proposal is the best option," said Rummenigge.

"It takes into account the climate issue, while preserving the traditional running of a club football season.

"This proposal needs to be seriously considered by all stakeholders. It is an achievable solution."

The ECA also believes that Qatar's climate in late April and May provides conditions better than those experienced at Mexico 86, USA 94 and this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Group games would be played between 28 April and 12 May, with kick-offs at 18:00, 20:30 and 23:00 BST. Based on data from the past 10 years, temperatures would range between 29 and 32 celsius.

The knock-out stage of the tournament would begin on 14 May, with games starting at 19:00 and 22:00.

The World Cup final would be held on 29 May at Qatar's planned 86,000 capacity stadium in Lusail.

Temperatures around this time have averaged 33C over the previous decade.

Qatar is also promising to use cooling technologies to reduce the temperature within stadiums and fan parks to 23C.

One potential hurdle is that the annual observance of the holiest month in the Muslim calendar, Ramadan, will fall between 3 April and 2 May in 2022.

Eating and drinking in public is currently illegal in Qatar during Ramadan, a month in which observant Muslims fast between dawn and sunset.

It is understood the ECA will use Monday's penultimate meeting of the Qatar calendar taskforce at Fifa headquarters in Zurich to discuss how the tournament could work in conjunction with one of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar.

The taskforce, led by Fifa vice-president Shaikh Salman, is expected to make a final decision by March 2015.

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