FIFA has revived the possibility of January World Cup in 2022, after previously ruling out the possibility.
The FIFA task force set up to when the Qatar finals should take place, met for the first time at the headquarters of world football’s governing body on Monday.
Qatar’s original bid for the World Cup was based on a summer tournament, despite the searing heat in the country.
The Qataris insisted such a World Cup would be viable thanks to cooling technologies it is developing for stadiums, training areas and fan zones. However, there remains great scepticism about the practicality of hosting the tournament in a country where summer temperatures can reach 50C.
“Discussions centered around the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and participants were presented with information on the implications of staging the event in winter as opposed to summer, as proposed by the FIFA executive committee,” FIFA said in a statement.
“FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke clarified that, based on the hosting agreement, the FIFA World Cup must be held in 2022.
“The options of January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 were put forward as alternatives to June/July 2022, and initial feedback received.”
Last November, Blatter insisted that the World Cup that could clash with the Winter Olympics – scheduled to be staged in January 2022.
“The FIFA World Cup can only be played in November/December 2022, no way it’s going to take place in January/February,” he said at the time.
“We have to see how we can have the FIFA World Cup played in winter, but only Nov/Dec are possible.”
The International Olympic Committee, told Reuters on Monday it had received assurances from Blatter that the 2022 World Cup would not clash with the Winter Olympics, the world’s biggest winter sports event.
“It is in the interest of both organisations (FIFA and the IOC) that there is no clash between our calendars,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “We have received assurances from President Blatter that this will not be the case.
Monday’s inaugural meeting included representatives from European clubs, leagues and the world players’ union FIFPro as well as national association representatives.
“This is the first meeting and there will be future meetings on this matter,” said Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who chaired the meeting.
“As the FIFA executive committee has emphasized, the consultation process should not be rushed but instead be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.
“We have made progress at today’s meeting and will continue to work together to find the best solution for soccer.”
However, Blatter, in a taped interview to the Soccerex convention in Manchester, seemed to rule out a summer World Cup, even though it was one of the dates being discussed by the task force.
“We have already said we cannot play in summer in this heat in Qatar,” he said. “We have to play in winter.
“Now we are making this consultation but it is the first official one, so far.
“So far the FIFA secretary Jerome Valcke has made some contact by telephone with the different leagues and now we will bring them together and identify what is the best possible moment to play in Qatar. But that decision is not taken. Definitely not.”