The 2022 World Cup in Qatar should take place in November and December, a Fifa taskforce has recommended.Key football officials met in Doha to discuss a number of options following fears a summer event would endanger the health of players and fans.
Summer temperatures in Qatar can exceed 40C while those in November-December drop to the mid-20s.
Tuesday’s recommendation is expected to be ratified by Fifa’s executive committee in Zurich on 19 and 20 March.
Taskforce chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa also recommended that the 2022 tournament should be shortened by a few days.
But there are no plans to reduce the size of the tournament from 32 teams or 64 matches.
The news will upset some of Europe’s top leagues, who preferred an April-May option to minimise disruption to their own domestic programmes.
Peter Coates, chairman on English Premier League side Stoke City, described the situation as a “disaster”.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “The only saving grace is that we don’t have to think about it for a long time.
“The planning will go on and it will be incredibly difficult. It couldn’t be more disruptive. It couldn’t be more messy.”
The other date under consideration was January-February, but that raised the prospect of a clash with the Winter Olympics.
Dailyreleased live’s sports news reporter Richard Conway said it looked like Europe’s leading leagues had “lost this argument” but indicated the row over dates would rumble on.
“It’s not not the end of the story by a long way, but organisers in Qatar will be hopeful that this is the start perhaps of building and planning for the 2022 World Cup for real,” he added.
Fifa issued a statement confirming the taskforce’s recommendation.
It said a number of options had been discussed but felt that November-December was the best one because:
- The two bidding cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics – Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Beijing (China) – plan to hold the event from 4-20 February, 2022
- The month of Ramadan begins on 2 April in 2022
- And that consistently hot conditions prevail from May to September in the Gulf state
The statement continued: “The only remaining effective option is the November/December window.”
Sheikh Salman added: “We are very pleased that, after careful consideration of the various opinions and detailed discussions with all stakeholders, we have identified what we believe to be the best solution for the 2018-2024 international match calendar and football in general.
“It was a challenging task and I want to thank all members of the football community for their productive input and constructiveness in helping to find a solution that we believe can work for everyone.”
What will happen now?
Former England international Trevor Sinclair says the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup should begin again given Qatar won on the basis of holding football’s showpiece in the months of June and July.
Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States were the four other bidding nations for the tournament.
“All the countries that were involved in the initial bids should get the option to bid again as Fifa have moved the goalposts,” Sinclair, who won 12 international caps, told BBC Radio 5 live.
“That’s unacceptable and it should end up in the courts. It stinks and it should never have been given to Qatar.”
What will be the impact on the Premier League?
English football’s top flight is strongly opposed 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.
A World Cup in November and December also impacts the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Football League,.
A recent statement from the Premier League said: “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.”
What are winter temperatures like in Qatar?
Average temperatures in November are around 29C, dropping to around 25C by mid-December, slightly cooler than the 35C averages in May.
Tournament organisers had planned to use air-cooling technology that they claimed would lower temperatures within grounds to about 23C.