FIFA quashes talk of winter World Cup

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BERNE- FIFA has quashed talk of a winter World Cup in 2022, saying it has no plans to change the international calendar and that any switch of dates would have to be proposed by the Qatari hosts.

Qatar also said it was going ahead with organising the tournament in the summer as presented in its bid.

"Any potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup from a summer to a winter period would have to be initiated by the football association of Qatar and would have to be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee," FIFA said in a statement.

"At this stage there are no concrete plans to change the international match calendar."

The statement appeared to mark a U-turn by soccer's governing body as FIFA president Sepp Blatter said this month that he expected the tournament to be staged in the winter.

Blatter's comments echoed those of other leading figures including UEFA president Michel Platini, who even suggested that Qatar could co-host the event with some of its neighbours.

SUMMER TOURNAMENT

But Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, said the 2022 World Cup hosts would continue to prepare for a summer tournament.

"We submitted a bid for the World Cup to be played in the summer and any other opinion should be discussed among all the stakeholders - FIFA, national associations, players, leagues and clubs," he said.

"Our bid is for June-July and we are going to organise the World Cup for June-July unless the other stakeholders have different opinions. I'm not opposing or proposing to move it."

Bin Hammam said it was important now to focus on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"It is quite strange actually the World Cup in Brazil is just three years away and nobody is speaking about it which is actually quite uncomfortable to me," he said.

Blatter's comment led to suggestions that FIFA was effectively changing the rules as the contest for the 2022 World Cup, in which Qatar beat Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea, was based around a June-July tournament.

U.S. media called for the bid process to be held again if the tournament was moved.

Qatar has insisted that the fierce summer heat will not be a problem as all its stadiums will be air-conditioned but this has failed to allay fears about the weather.

Philipp Lahm, who captained Germany at last year's World Cup, said it would be "madness" to stage a summer World Cup in the Middle East and FIFA's inspection team said conditions were a potential health hazard to players and supporters.

FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, who represents the U.S., told Reuters that switching the event to winter may take 10 weeks out of the international club season and would "upset the entire football world."