A FIFA task force that met in Doha today made a historic recommendation to move the games from the traditional June/July months to November/December.
In a statement, the committee said:
“Given that the two bidding cities for the 2022 Winter Olympics – Almaty (Kazakastan) and Beijing (China) – pledged recently to host the winter games from 4 to 20 February 2022, that the month of Ramadan begins on 2 April in 2022; and that consistently hot conditions prevail from May to September in Qatar, the only remaining effective option is the November/December window.
For legal reasons, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup must be played within the calendar year 2022.”
Despite speculation, however, the committee did not recommend any specific dates, saying those would be decided “in due time.”
Fifa task force on Qatar stop short of dates saying only late Nov / late Dec but I understand one option is Nov 26 – Dec 23.
— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) February 24, 2015
In recent weeks, talk of moving the World Cup was considered to be a “done deal.”
But the decision would present a challenge particularly for some 844 European football clubs in 22 countries.
The teams previously argued that shifting the dates would have an adverse effect on timetables for domestic matches, and would harm leagues’ business interests.
But speaking to BBC, the head of the task force, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, said yesterday that holding the games in May, which is what Europe’s top leagues and clubs preferred, was not possible.
“All parties have to compromise, not just the Europeans,” Sheikh Salman said.
The task force has been discussing potential alternatives to a summer World Cup since September, weighing January/February 2022, November/December 2022 and the original summer plan.
But holding the games in January 2022 would clash with the winter Olympics, said Salman, who is president of the Asian Football Confederation.
“Stakeholders are concerned about playing in the summer, so we have to change to winter,” he said. “The only option that I see is November/December.”
American broadcaster Fox – which paid a record amount for the broadcasting rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – has also voiced concerns over a winter World Cup, which would clash with its coverage of National Football League (NFL) games.
But recently, FIFA awarded Fox rights to air the 2026 World Cup without reportedly allowing other broadcasters to bid, prompting some to speculate that the network had been appeased over changes in the 2022 calendar.
For its part, Qatar’s organizing committee head Hassan Al Thawadi said they were “ready to comply” with the “football community’s decision.”
Following today’s recommendation, the FIFA Executive Committee will decide the World Cup dates during its next meeting on March 19.