Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s general secretary, made another entry in the shambolic saga of when the 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar, stating it will not be held in its traditional summer slot but rather some time between November and January.
Ever since the game’s governing body awarded the finals to the Gulf state four years ago confusion has surrounded when it will be played, even if it has long seemed inevitable it would be moved from the summer months because of the intense heat. Fifa responded to Valcke’s comments in an interview on French radio by insisting no final decision has been reached and none will be made before this summer’s finals in Brazil.
There is no doubt, though, that there will be a switch from summer and Valcke’s suggestion of an end-of-year tournament cements then as the likeliest date, even if Fifa could be sued by the US or Australia, who also bid for the tournament via bidding documents that stated it would be played in June or July.
Valcke said: “I think it’ll be played between 15 November and 15 January at the latest. If you play between 15 November and the end of the year that’s when the weather is at its most favourable.”
Valcke is an influential figure within Fifa. He was appointed in October by Sepp Blatter to lead a consultation group into when the finals will be played. Mid-November to mid-December is the favourite because it avoids clashing with the 2022 Winter Olympics and is the least-worst option for the major European leagues. Valcke and Blatter held talks with the association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) in Zurich on Wednesday and said no decision had been taken.
Frédéric Thiriez, the chairman of the EPFL and the French League, said: “Fifa’s position as to the timing of the 2022 World Cup has not changed. In other words, ‘Nothing new under the sun’.”