FIFA is strongly favoring the idea of pushing back the 2022 World Cup from the summer to the end of the year so that it can be held during Qatar’s cooler months, according to a new report in Sports Illustrated.
Citing multiple anonymous sources, the publication states:
“The current plan is for only one European club season to be impacted schedule-wise, which the clubs are hoping to achieve by cutting some international dates. One key question is what to do about Confederations Cup the year before, but the big World Cup decision has been made. Set your calendars for November-December of 2022.”
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. UPDATE: In a statement sent to Doha News, a FIFA spokesperson said she could not comment as the consultation process is ongoing.
The World Cup is traditionally held in June and July, when temperatures in Qatar can reach nearly 50C.
Organizers here have said they are prepared to host the football tournament at any time of the year, and have been testing cooling technology to keep temperatures comfortable inside stadiums, fan zones and other hotspots.
A task force to determine the dates for the 2022 World Cup met for the first time in September. Two winter time periods – January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 – have been under consideration, as well as the original summer plan.
But January/February was immediately criticized due to concerns that the World Cup would clash with the winter Olympics.
And the November/December dates came under fire from the European Professional Football Leagues, which represents 844 clubs in 22 countries.
The teams previously argued that shifting the dates would have an adverse effect on timetables for domestic matches, and would harm leagues’ business interests.
Meanwhile, American broadcaster Fox – which paid a record amount for the broadcasting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – has also voiced concerns over a winter World Cup, which would clash with its coverage of National Football League (NFL) games.
The FIFA task force is expected to convene in Doha next week on Feb. 24 to make its final recommendation, and the Executive Committee will decide the World Cup dates during its next meeting on March 19.