World Cup 2022: Qatar tournament dates set for November and December
A FIFA taskforce has recommended the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should take place in November and December.
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 (104F) while those in November and December drop to around 25C (77F).
Today’s recommendation is expected to be ratified by FIFA’s executive committee in Zurich on March 19 and 20.
Taskforce chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa also recommended that the 2022 tournament should be shortened by a few days.
There has already been speculation that the tournament could start on November 26 and end on December 23.
However, FIFA has already said there are no plans to reduce the size of the tournament from 32 teams or 64 matches.
The other dates under consideration were May and January-February.
In a statement, FIFA said a number of options had been discussed but felt that November-December was the best one because:
- A January-February tournament would clash with Winter Olympics
- The month of Ramadan begins on April 2 in 2022
- Hot conditions prevail from May to September in Qatar
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said there were “pros and cons” for all options but said the “one solution” was November and December.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa 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.”
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said moving the World Cup to the winter was a “common sense” decision but that a final on December 23 would be too close to Christmas and the traditional festive matches.
He said a tournament in November and December would “cause a lot of disruption” but added: “It is eight years away and people should have enough time to make it work.”
Many of Europe’s top leagues wanted an April-May solution to minimize disruption to their domestic programs.
There is also the Champions League and Europa League to consider, with group games usually taking place in November and December.
However, European governing body UEFA came out in support of the taskforce recommendation.
It issued a statement insisting it “sees no major issues in rescheduling its competitions for the 2022/23 season”.
African officials agree with the taskforce’s recommendation, despite the fact they will almost certainly have to move the 2023 African Cup of Nations from its January-February slot.
Confederation of African Football’s director of communications Junior Binyam said it was backing the proposal “100%”.
As for North America, the Major League Soccer season in the United States will be unaffected given it runs from March until the end of October.
Average temperatures in November are around 29C (84F), dropping to around 25C (77F) by mid-December, slightly cooler than the 35C (95F) averages in May.
Tournament organizers had planned to use air-cooling technology they claimed would lower temperatures within grounds to about 23C (73F).
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