Qatar 2022 World Cup taskforce backs clash with Winter Olympics

By Richard ConwayBBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent in Zurich
Germany win World Cup and Lizzy Yarnold
Germany won the 2014 World Cup, while Lizzy Yarnold took Winter Olympic gold

Influential football figures have backed proposals that could see the Qatar 2022 World Cup clash with the Winter Olympics.

Talks at Fifa headquarters in Zurich resulted in support for a tournament held in either January and February or November and December.

No decision was taken and, in theory, all options remain open.

Fifa is adamant the tournament cannot take place in June and July because of extreme temperatures in Qatar.

The month of May could be a compromise, with European clubs and leagues in favour of this particular option, but no clear solution is yet in sight.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter and International Olympic Committee counterpart Thomas Bach had previously agreed the World Cup and Winter Olympics would not clash.

However, Jerome Valcke, Fifa's secretary general, said the first two months of 2022 - when a Winter Games could take place - was one of two most likely dates for the World Cup.

"We are getting closer to narrowing the dates for the Fifa World Cup to two options - January/February 2022 or November/December 2022 - but Fifa has also been asked to consider May 2022," he said in a statement.

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"We will summarise what we've heard today and provide feedback to all parties in order for them to prepare for the next meeting as we progress towards a final decision."

In response, the IOC told BBC Sport it was in the interest of Fifa and the IOC that "there is no clash between our calendars" and added: "We have received assurances from President Blatter that this will not be the case."

No date has yet been set for the Winter Olympics, which will be held in either the Kazakh city of Almaty or the Chinese capital Beijing, but the 2014 Winters in Sochi ran from 7-23 February.

Monday's meeting in Zurich was attended by Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and Football Association general secretary Alex Horne.

Also present were the head of the Qatar 2022 organising committee, Hassan Al Thawadi, and representatives from domestic leagues and regional confederations.

They heard from Fifa's medical chief, who warned of a "highly critical risk" to players, officials and fans attending a World Cup in Qatar between June and August, when temperatures can reach over 50C.

Professor Jiri Dvorak also said it was a "borderline risk" to hold the tournament in May or September.

Fifa sees November and December as a viable option and has pressed the case for that date in recent months.

But football officials from Africa, South America, North and Central America, Asia and Europe are thought to prefer January and February.

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One senior figure present at the meeting, speaking to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said he "wouldn't like to call which way it would go" as far as the January/February and November/December options were concerned.

Five separate proposals were considered, but BBC Sport understands Fifa insisted that only winter dates could be considered.

The big European leagues want to see all summer options exhausted first.

The Premier League is believed to oppose a winter tournament given the disruption it would cause to the title run-in and the hole it would create in the schedules of its broadcast partners.

Scudamore is understood to have asked Qatar representatives on Monday why they could not host the tournament as originally intended.

While Qatar's response to Scudamore's question is unknown, the organising committee has always maintained it is prepared to host the World Cup at any time of year.

Fifa previously stated it expected the taskforce to make a recommendation by March 2015, with a further meeting of the group expected to be held early next year.