Qatar 2022: Fifa taskforce says November/December is only option

By Richard ConwayBBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent, in Doha
Sheikh Salman Fifa
Sheikh Salman says leagues must compromise over a winter World Cup

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar can only be held in November and December, says the head of Fifa's taskforce looking into possible dates for the tournament.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa has ruled out May, the preferred option of Europe's top leagues and clubs.

Qatar's bid proposed a summer event, but temperatures in the Gulf state could pose a potential risk to the health of players and fans.

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A January/February tournament would clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"All parties have to compromise, not just the Europeans," Sheikh Salman said.

Hassan Al Thawadi, head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup organising committee, told BBC Sport the hosts were "ready to comply" with the "football community's decision".

He added: "Whatever decision gets taken, we are ready to host it at any point in time."

During the bidding process, Qatar presented plans for air-conditioned stadiums, fan zones and training grounds to address concerns over the summer heat.

"Whenever the World Cup is hosted, we're still moving ahead with the cooling technology for the legacy that it offers," Al Thawadi said.

Sheikh Salman's winter proposal raises the prospect of a stand-off with European clubs over domestic schedules and player availability.

However, his stance appears to have the backing of Michel Platini, president of European football's governing body Uefa.

The Frenchman has already said the World Cup will be held in winter because "it's not possible to play in May when it's 40 degrees".

Sheikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation, said there were two winter options: January/February or November/December.

However, he cited a clash between January 2022 and the Winter Olympics as undesirable.

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"Stakeholders are concerned about playing in the summer, so we have to change to winter," he said. "The only option that I see is November/December."

A winter World Cup would present problems not only for European league schedules but potentially for the Africa Cup of Nations, too.

The 2023 tournament is scheduled for January in Guinea.

Sheikh Salman said he hoped his proposal was "a done deal" and was hopeful a recommendation would be made at Tuesday's taskforce meeting in Doha.

The tournament date will then be put to Fifa's executive committee for final approval in March.

"Hopefully we can settle this issue once and for all," he added.

A Premier League spokesman said the league's position was unchanged on the matter: "The 2022 World Cup was bid for and awarded to Qatar as a summer tournament. The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football."


Analysis - Richard Conway

Sheikh Salman's dismissal of May as an option for the 2022 World Cup will anger the big European clubs and leagues.

If the tournament does not take place in its traditional timeslot of June and July, they feel it should take place as close to those dates as possible.

A detailed plan has been proposed by the European Clubs Association and the European Professional Football Leagues - but it is now set to be rejected and consigned to the dustbin.

The European clubs provided 75% of the players at last summer's World Cup in Brazil - a fact they're sure to remind those opposed to them in Doha this week.

What is clear is that for Sheikh Salman and others upsetting their European colleagues is a price worth paying in order to switch the World Cup to winter in 2022 and deliver the first Middle Eastern tournament.

Read Richard's explainer from November 2014

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