Sepp Blatter has claimed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will finish no later than 18 December – a date that could placate English football, which is concerned about the viability of its traditional festive programme taking place immediately after the tournament ends.
UEFA has proposed playing the final at the tournament on 23 December, just two days before Christmas, to reduce the impact on its international matches, but that did not go down well in Britain where a full programme of fixtures traditionally takes place on Boxing Day.
Asked about the dates of the final, Blatter said: “Not until the 23rd, definitely not. We have to stop at the 18th.”
The FIFA president was speaking in Belfast before a meeting of the International FA Board. A final decision on the dates will be taken by FIFA’s executive committee on March 20.
Blatter acknowledged that the decision to shift the 2022 World Cup to the winter had not gone down well with the European leagues.
“They are not so very happy and it’s so good now to make a little bit of noise about FIFA and about the World Cup in Qatar,” he said. “There are more than six years – particularly seven years – to prepare. And there is a goodwill. There will be a solution and I’m sure everybody will be fine.”
Blatter added: “I don’t think why they should. This is a problem that we have not now discussed in depth. But, definitely, we are in contact. I have been personally in contact with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (European Club Association’s chairman) before this decision to see how a solution can be found.”