Decision to host the tournament in November or December to have major repercussions on European domestic leagues
Qatar is likely to host a winter World Cup after a FIFA task force looking into dates for the event recommended that a shorter football tournament be staged between the months of November and December 2022.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the head of the Asian Football Confederation, confirmed the news and said that all options will reviewed at the FIFA meeting being held in March 2015. The final decision about dates for the tournament are expected to be ratified by the world football body’s executive committee.
“Some people have concerns, but whatever decision you’re going to take will have some questions about it,” Sheikh Salman said after a meeting of the task force. “But we need to look at the overall benefit of everybody.”
The Guardian newspaper reported that there were unconfirmed suggestions that the final of the tournament will be held the day before Christmas Eve.
“The outcome of the discussions is also a proposed reduced competition days schedule with the exact dates to be defined in line with the match schedule and number of venues to be used for the 22nd edition of football’s flagship event,” a FIFA statement on its website said.
The decision comes after a six-month consultation process by the task force, the statement added. Various proposals for alternative dates in June and July were also discussed and assessed at the three task force meetings held by representatives of international football.
Despite extensive discussions and objections raised by representatives of the domestic leagues about the impact the decision would have on their leagues, it was concluded that a November/December tournament was the only viable option.
“Given that the two bidding cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics – Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Beijing (China PR) – pledged recently to host the winter games from 4 to 20 February 2022; that the month of Ramadan begins on 2 April in 2022; and that consistently hot conditions prevail from May to September in Qatar, the only remaining effective option is the November/December window. For legal reasons, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup must be played within the calendar year 2022,” the statement said.
“The proposed event dates have the full support of all six confederations. The proposal will be discussed at the next meeting of the FIFA executive committee, scheduled to take place at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 19 and 20 March 2015.”
There are no plans to reduce the size of the tournament from 32 teams or 64 games, but the tournament will see its timeline in terms of days reduced.
Should the decision be ratified in Zurich in March, it is likely that FIFA will face considerable opposition from the major European leagues and the clubs participating within them as they have expressed a preference for an April-May tournament so as to minimise disruption to their programmes and preparations.