Sepp Blatter: 2022 World Cup final will be held before 18 December
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has insisted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will finish no later than December 18 - a move which could protect English football's traditional Boxing Day games.
UEFA has proposed playing the final at the tournament on December 23, just two days before Christmas, to lessen disruption to its own international matches.
That sparked uproar in Britain as it would threaten the traditional festive club programme.
Blatter, speaking for the first time since a FIFA task force confirmed November/December for the 2022 World Cup, said: "Not until the 23rd, definitely not. We have to stop at the 18th."
The FIFA president was speaking in Belfast ahead of a meeting of the International FA Board.
A final decision on the dates will be taken by FIFA's executive committee on March 20.