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FIFA: Qatar winter verdict may not come until 2015

ESPN staff
October 4, 2013 « FIFA blameless over Qatar workers' deaths - Blatter | Chartbeat test »
FIFA are to set up a commission to examine the possibility of holding the Qatar World Cup in the winter © Getty Images
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter said a decision on which months to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar might not come until 2015.

FIFA will set up a commission to examine the possibility of holding the 2022 Qatar World Cup in the winter, an executive committee meeting ruled on Friday.

Blatter announced the move at a press conference in Zurich, at which he also addressed the rights of workers engaged in infrastructure projects ahead of the tournament.

After talks in Switzerland, FIFA sources said the task force would consist of figures from "across the game" - potentially including Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore - but would not make a decision until after the 2014 World Cup.

And later, FIFA member Michel D'Hooghe, of Belgium, said: "[It will be] at the earliest in 2015. We need some concrete information - this will not be done in two days. We have to look together with our marketing and broadcast partners.

"Don't expect any decision from the commission before the World Cup in Brazil. We have two World Cups before Qatar where we also have concerns."

Blatter says he "cannot contradict" board executive committee member D'Hooghe, who said a decision was expected in 2015 "at the earliest."

FIFA is considering moving the tournament because of the stifling summer conditions in the desert state. However, organisers maintain that it could be played at any time of year because of advances in cooling technology.

Earlier this week, FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio insisted there was "no doubt" that the 2022 tournament will be played in Qatar, telling reporters: "What is open to question is if we play in winter, and if so is it November, December, January, I don't know."

Blatter has been pushing for a switch but is likely to meet opposition from Europe and the United States, who want FIFA to consult widely before agreeing to a change from the usual June-July slot.

Officials from Asian and African confederations also said on Thursday they have not yet talked formally about the president's proposal.

Blatter has raised the possibility of starting the tournament in November, while UEFA president Michel Platini prefers January.

Friday's FIFA meeting also discussed widespread allegations of the mistreatment of migrant workers on World Cup-related projects in Qatar, with Blatter now expected to visit the country to raise his concerns.

The Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation is trying to step up pressure on FIFA, reminding Blatter that his organisation failed in a November 2011 pledge to press Qatari authorities to improve working conditions and legal protection for up to 1.2 million foreign workers in the emirate.

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