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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FIF is facing new allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The Sunday Times has obtained millions of secret documents – emails, letters and bank transfers – which it alleges are proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totaling $5 million to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.
Qatar 2022 and Mohamed Bin Hammam have always strenuously denied the former FIFA vice-president actively lobbied on their behalf in the run-up to the vote in December 2010.
But, according to emails obtained by the Sunday Times, it is now clear that Mohamed Bin Hammam, 65, was lobbying on Qatar’s behalf at least a year before the decision.
The documents also show how Mohamed Bin Hammam was making payments direct to football officials in Africa to allegedly buy their support for Qatar in the contest.
Qatar strongly denies any wrongdoing and insists that Mohamed Bin Hammam never had any official role supporting the bid and always acted independently from the Qatar 2022 campaign.
Mohamed Bin Hammam allegedly made payments totaling $5 million to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid
When approached by the Sunday Times to respond to their claims, Mohamed Bin Hammam’s son Hamad Al Abdulla declined to comment on his behalf.
Although the vast majority of the officials did not have a vote, the Sunday Times alleges Mohamed Bin Hammam’s strategy was to win a groundswell of support for the Qatari bid which would then influence the four African FIFA executive committee members who were able to take part in the election.
The Sunday Times also alleges that it has documents which prove Mohamed Bin Hammam paid 305,000 Euros ($410,000) to cover the legal expenses of another former FIFA executive committee member from Oceania, Reynald Temarii.
Reynald Temarii, from Tahiti, was unable to vote in the contest as he had already been suspended by FIFA after he was caught out by a Sunday Times sting asking bogus American bid officials for money in return for his support.
But the paper now alleges that Mohamed Bin Hammam provided him with financial assistance to allow him to appeal against the FIFA suspension, delaying his removal from the executive committee and blocking his deputy David Chung from voting in the 2022 election.
The publication claims that had David Chung been allowed to vote he would have supported Qatar’s rivals Australia. Instead there was no representative from Oceania allowed to vote, a decision which may have influenced the outcome in Qatar’s favor.
The paper also makes fresh allegations about the relationship between Mohamed Bin Hammam and his disgraced FIFA ally Jack Warner, from Trinidad.
Although Jack Warner was forced to resign as a FIFA vice-president in 2011, after it was proved he helped Mohamed Bin Hammam bribe Caribbean football officials in return for their support in his bid to oust the long-standing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the paper says it has evidence which shows more than $1.6 million was paid by Bin Hammam to Warner, including $450,000 in the period before the vote.
The new allegations will place FIFA under fresh pressure to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup, which was held in conjunction with the vote for the 2018 tournament.
FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia is already conducting a long-running inquiry into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing during the 2018/22 decisions. He is due to meet senior officials from the Qatar 2022 organizing committee in Oman on Monday.
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