Saturday 26 May 2018

FIFA set to agree to shorter Qatar winter World Cup

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has faced furious criticism from his Uefa counterparts
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has faced furious criticism from his Uefa counterparts

FIFA will come under pressure 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 later today 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. 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."

Britain'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 finals in the winter.

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