The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not be played in the hot summer months of June and July, but most likely between November and January, Jerome Valcke, secretary general of the ruling football body FIFA, said Wednesday.
“The dates of the World Cup will not be from June to July. I think it will be between November 15 and January 15, at the latest,” Valcke told France Info radio.
Valcke said it was still to be determined whether the showcase event would take place during the 2021-22 or 2022-23 season but that the expected dates would not collide with the Winter Olympics in February 2022.
Qatar pledged air-conditioned stadiums to avoid the intense summer heat when it was awarded the World Cup. But the football community soon agreed it would be better to move the tournament to autumn/winter, with a final decision to be made by the FIFA executive committee in December 2014.
“If you play between 15 November and the end of December the weather is most favourable, where you play at a temperature which is equivalent of spring in Europe, at an average temperature of 25 degrees. So it’s perfect for football,” Valcke said.
FIFA has started consultations with all major stakeholders such as clubs, leagues, national federations, sponsors and broadcasters on the issue.
Moving the World Cup would force domestic leagues and continental events to rearrange their schedules.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer insisted that Valcke was merely presenting “his view” in the interview and that “the precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process.” She added: “As the event will not be played until 8 years’ time the consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.” FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told Sky Sports News he was “shocked” by Valcke’s statements and said: “As it stands it remains in the summer with no decision expected until end of 2014 or March 2015.” Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of Champions League winners Bayern Munich and of the influential European club association, expressed “surprise” to DPA at Munich’s winter break training camp in Qatar.
“(FIFA president) Sepp Blatter personally told me (in December at the Club World Cup) in Marrakesh that there will be a consultation process in 2014 before the executive committee makes its decision,” Rummenigge.