Fifa may have to agree to a shortened 2022 World Cup

World Cup task force due to meet in Doha tomorrow with Fifa under pressure to make concessions

Fifa will come under pressure on Tuesday to agree to a shortened World Cup in 2022 in compensation for moving the tournament in Qatar to the winter.

The final meeting of the 2022 task force will be held in Doha on Tuesday when recommendations on the timing of the World Cup are expected to confirm a November/December tournament in order to avoid the searing heat of the summer.

On the basis of the recommendations, the final decision on the long-running saga should then be made in Zurich on March 20th.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is among those on the task force and at its last meeting argued forcefully for a shortened World Cup to minimise disruptions to the clubs and leagues, with a shorter preparation period beforehand and fewer international dates that season.


One task force member, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It is almost certain that November/December will be agreed but the trade-offs will be for a cut in the length of the World Cup and the preparation period beforehand.

“The leagues have been forceful in arguing that you only need two weeks’ preparation beforehand rather than the usual three or four, and that the tournament does not need to be as long as the 32 days it was in Brazil.

“The players from northern hemisphere clubs — which is the majority — will be fresher than usual and the logistics of Qatar mean it will be less than two hours’ drive to every stadium so there will be no travel days for teams.

“For example you probably don’t need five days between the semi-final and final — 72 hours should be long enough.”

Northern Ireland's Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce favours a January/February option but accepted that would clash with the Winter Olympics, and said the important thing was to agree to play the tournament in the winter.

Boyce, who sits on Fifa’s executive committee that will have to ratify the task force recommendations, said: “If it’s going to be in Qatar then let’s agree on a date in the winter and look forward to a wonderful World Cup there because you cannot possibly take people there to play it in the summer.

“My personal preference would be for January/February but then you have problems with the Olympics so if it has to be in November/December then so be it.”

The European clubs, meanwhile, are still hopeful of persuading fifa to stage the event in May with the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) saying they believed it was still on the table.

“Our position remains unchanged really,” an ECA spokesman explained. “We have elaborated a proposal with EPFL (the Association of European Professional Leagues), which our representatives will present to the task force tomorrow. We want it to be seriously discussed.

“We are surprised by the reports claiming that there is an agreement. We are not aware.”

Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup on the basis that the finals would be staged in June/July using naturally cooled stadia to alleviate the effects of the searing desert heat.

Qatar has continued to say it is happy to stage the World Cup in June/July and that the cooling technology will be ready. Despite this, there is widespread agreement that the tournament should be held in the cooler months, particularly for the benefit of visiting fans.

ECA’s proposal is for the finals to be staged from May 5th to June 4th, which it said would cause less disruption to the European club season and would not require the World Cup to be squeezed between club commitments.

It argues that the weather in May would be “acceptable”, especially if the stadiums are cooled. ECA said that, in the worst case, it would be similar to some cities in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup and better than some games played at the World Cups in Mexico (1986) and the United States (1994).