World Cup 2022: Fifa taskforce to seek new dates for tournament

Fifa President Sepp Blatter: ''There should be a consultation"

Fifa has agreed to set up a taskforce to look into alternative dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But a final decision on when the tournament could be played will not take place before the 2014 World Cup.

Fears that Qatar's hot summer temperatures could pose a heath risk to players and fans forced football's world governing body to act.

The taskforce will consult with medical experts, broadcasters, sponsors and influential European leagues.

"We need to carry out very deep consultations and investigations and show some diplomacy and wisdom," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

At the climax of a two-day meeting in Zurich, Blatter also confirmed Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa would head the taskforce.

The BBC understands that Fifa is considering inviting English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore to be a member of the working group.

He has been an outspoken opponent of plans to stage a World Cup in the northern hemisphere winter, claiming it would lead to disruption in many domestic leagues.

The name of FA general secretary Alex Horne has also been mooted but sources say the final composition will be subject to agreement by Fifa's executive committee.

The Premier League said in a statement: "We welcome the news that Fifa intends to conduct a thorough consultation process involving all of the appropriate stakeholders, including confederations, associations, leagues and clubs."

World Cup 2022: Pundits debate Qatar 2022 alternative dates

Qatar was awarded the World Cup in December 2010, beating Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States in a vote.

The Gulf state planned to combat the fierce heat, with temperatures rising to in excess of 40C, by building air-conditioned stadiums.

But concerns remained, prompting Blatter to announce in July this year that the World Cup should be switched to a cooler time of the year, away from Qatar's summer months of June and July.

There have also been calls to strip the desert nation of the right to stage the World Cup completely and run the vote again.

But Blatter insisted: "The Fifa World Cup 2022 will be played in Qatar. There you have it."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter expressed his ''sympathy and regret'' over workers' deaths in Qatar

Qatar has also come under scrutiny after a British newspaper published a report that accused the country of abusing the rights of migrant workers.

Blatter said Fifa could not get involved in labour issues in any country but added that his organisation "cannot ignore" the allegations.

"I express all my sympathy and regret for anything that happens in any country where there are deaths on construction sites, especially when they are related to a World Cup," he told a news conference.

Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar's organising committee, has already said the Gulf state was addressing concerns.

"It's not a World Cup being built on the blood of innocents," he said. "That is unacceptable to anybody. We will be eradicating these issues."

Prior to Friday's announcement, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of the Fifa inspection team that assessed Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, thought the tournament should be moved to January and February, when temperatures in the Gulf state average about 22C.

However, that could lead to a potential clash with other big sporting events, notably the Winter Olympics and American football's Super Bowl, as well as domestic football leagues and the Champions League.

New International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has said he is confident there will be no clash with the Winter Olympics.

American TV network Fox, World Cup rights-holder for North America, is understood to be concerned over the commercial implications of any move that would see the World Cup clash with the NFL season.

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