ZURICH: Football’s governing body FIFA yesterday approved staging the final of the 2022 World Cup to coincide with Qatar’s National Day on December 18, a top official said.
A FIFA task force recommended last month that the tournament be switched from summer to winter and played in November and December.
FIFA’s Communications Chief Walter de Gregorio said deciding the date of the final was “an important step. Finally, we know and we can move forward.
“The final will be on December 18. It is a Sunday and it is also National Day of Qatar, so it fits perfectly,” he told reporters.
Qatar was awarded the 2022 finals in December 2010 on the basis it would take place in the summer in air-conditioned stadiums.
But within days, Franz Beckenbauer, an executive committee member at the time, and UEFA President Michel Platini suggested a winter World Cup would be possible.
FIFA had to change from the traditional June-July World Cup and thus will be the first tournament to be held in the northern winter.
“In principle, we try to play in 28 days. The next step will be to have different talks, especially (on) the international calendar,” the official added.
The date of the start of the tournament will probably not be decided until the end of the year, FIFA sources said.
However, Telegraph newspaper said the beginning of the World Cup will be around November 21 as FIFA has suggested it would be a week-and-a-half shorter than usual.
The decision on the date of the 2022 final ended a long-running and acrimonious debate on the timing.
However, European clubs have complained about the disruption to their cash-rich domestic championships on account of a winter World Cup.
And even the dates for the November-December tournament were not unanimous.
England and other countries opposed this because of the clash with traditional games played over the Christmas and New Year period.
UEFA, Europe’s governing body had initially preferred December 23 for the final, but have since changed their minds.
However, European federations are still worried about dates for international matches scheduled at that time.
The compromise will probably see the tournament reduced to 28 days instead of 32 for 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Noel Le Graet, President, French Football Federation, said the proposed date could push European leagues to play more matches in summer.
“It is a good decision for players,” Le Graet told reporters. “I have always been a supporter of playing less in winter and more in summer.”
European clubs are expected to press for some kind of compensation for halting their national league and Champions League games for at least five weeks.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has previously said compensation was not needed.
But he has since held talks with the head of the European Club Association, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Chairman of German giants Bayern Munich.
FIFA paid $70m to clubs who had players at 2014 World Cup and this scheme could be enlarged for 2022.
UEFA is promising $170m for clubs whose players are on duty at 2016 European Championships in France.