New fears have been raised over the possibility of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar clashing with that year’s Winter Olympics, even though FIFA President Sepp Blatter had ruled out the prospect last year.
A FIFA Task Force set up to examine the options for the staging of the 2022 World Cup in the Gulf State met today in Zurich, at which the dates of January and February 2022 and November and December 2022 were put forward as alternatives to the traditional time slot of June and July.
The January and February time slot throws up the possibility of a direct clash with the staging of the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which are traditionally held in the first two months of the year.
The Task Force was set up by FIFA’s ruling Executive Committee after concerns were raised about holding football’s premier global event in the searing heat of a Gulf summer, during which time temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius.
On a visit to Doha last year, Blatter, a member of the International Olympic Committee, promised that the 2022 FIFA World Cup would not be moved to a time that would clash with the Winter Olympics.
Yet it appears that option is still being looked at following today’s meeting at FIFA headquarters at which the 78-year-old Swiss attended.
Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is leading the Task Force and was present at its first meeting alongside FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke and the chief executive of Qatar 2022, Hassan Al Thawadi.
Also in attendance were representatives of FIFPro, the European Club Association and the European Professional Football Leagues, who have all raised concerns about the disruption to domestic and European club competitions should the World Cup be moved to a mid-season time slot.
In a statement FIFA said 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.
“The options of January/February 2022 and November/December 2022 were put forward as alternatives to June/July 2022, and initial feedback received,” read the statement.
The task force will meet again in November 2014, with each of the representatives asked to provide detailed information on how the different proposed dates will impact their relevant competitions and activities, while it is expected another meeting will be held in February 2015.
“This is the first meeting and there will be future meetings on this matter,” said Sheikh Salman.
“As the FIFA Executive Committee has emphasised, 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 football.”
Qatar was controversially awarded the 2022 World Cup in December 2010, but the decision is currently being investigated amid widespread allegations of corruption.
The IOC, meanwhile, remains confident there will be no clash between the two events.
“It is in the interest of both organisations (FIFA and IOC) that there is no clash between our calendars, and we have received assurances from President Blatter that this will not be the case,” IOC director of communications Mark Adams told insidethegames.
The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held in either Almaty, Beijing or Oslo.
The host city is due to be announced at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 31 2015.
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.