Holding the controversy-plagued 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar at the end of that year rather than the scorching summer is FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s preferred option, he told French radio station France Info.
The 78-year-old Swiss, who will stand again for the presidency next year despite having to weather many storms over his 16-year rule including accusations of corruption over the Qatar bid for the 2022 finals, admitted it would involve altering the domestic league programs.
“We cannot play the World Cup in summer,” said Blatter. ‘The date which is the most convenient is the end of the year.”
Blatter, who has since January 2011 conceded the finals in Qatar would have to be switched from the traditional June/July dates because of the searing temperatures in Qatar at that time of year, agreed the change would not please clubs.
“However, the World Cup is too important,” he said.
The FIFA president explained that “we can refresh the stadiums and make the temperature low, but we can’t put the whole country under the roof. We’ve to look for a solution.”
Switching the finals to the beginning of the year would present an extra problem as it could well clash with the Winter Olympics.
Qatar and FIFA are coming under increasing pressure to take the 2022 showpiece away from a country that has little sporting infrastructure or soccer culture, while there have been accusations of bribery in the bidding process.
Harold Mayne-Nicholls, who is considering challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency, said the event could still be staged in the summer.
But the ex-Chilean football chief said some games would have to start as late as 1am to avoid the worst of the heat. “You could play the first games at 7pm, the second games at 10pm and the third matches at 1am,” he told BBC Sport.
It is expected that the Qatar World Cup will be moved to winter in 2022 to avoid searing temperatures, with a November/December tournament currently being looked at by world soccer’s governing body.
Europe’s top leagues are firmly against any suggestion that the World Cup be moved to the winter to avoid the sweltering summer months in Qatar, while there have been allegations of horrific working conditions for migrant workers building stadiums and infrastructure.