The 2022 soccer World Cup will be staged in the winter to avoid the competition in Qatar being played in unsafe temperatures, FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said.
FIFA said Valcke was expressing a personal view. World soccer’s governing body is debating holding the competition outside its usual time of the summer months of the northern hemisphere, which would break more than 80 years of tradition. Qatar had said it would use air-cooling technology to host the event in June and July.
“The dates for the World Cup will not be June to July,” Valcke told Radio France. “To be honest, I think it will be held between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15 at the latest.”
A move would bring FIFA’s event into conflict with Europe’s richest soccer competitions, including England’s Premier League and UEFA’s Champions League. The European season generally begins in August and ends in April and May.
FIFA said a consultation with stakeholders including leagues, players and commercial and media partners is ongoing.
“As the event will not be played until eight 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 said in a statement. “Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil as agreed by the FIFA Executive Committee.”
The ruling body had said in October it would wait until after this year’s World Cup in Brazil before making a decision on the calendar for the 2022 event. Qatar, smaller than Connecticut, won the right to host sport’s most-watched competition in 2010 after a process that saw two FIFA officials suspended after telling undercover reporters they would be willing to sell their votes.
Qatar said it can host the competition in winter or its summer months, where temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees Centigrade (122 degrees Fahrenheit). Medical experts have warned that such temperatures pose health risks to players and fans.
“If you play between Nov. 15 and the end of December that’s the time when the weather conditions are best, when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging 25 degrees,” Valcke said. “That would be perfect for playing football.”
The World Cup has been played between May and July since its inception in 1930.
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