IOC seeks talks over winter World Cup

LAUSANNE - International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge asked the world governing football body FIFA on Thursday to hold talks before deciding to stage the 2022 Qatar World Cup in winter because of a possible clash with the Winter Olympics.

Qatar was awarded the 2022 event in December after bidding for a summer tournament. However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said the world's biggest single sports event could be held in the northern hemisphere winter to avoid scorching summer temperatures in the desert state.

"We have had no contact with FIFA because this is a very hypothetical discussion. FIFA has not taken a decision to shift (the World Cup) to winter months," Rogge told reporters.

"It would be sensible once a decision is envisaged by FIFA to sit around the table to see it is not harmful for either of the two parties.

"FIFA will take quietly a decision, taking into consideration the bracket that we have to respect. This might be a sensible decision to avoid the clash."

Winter Olympics are traditionally held over 16 days between the last week of January and the end of February. The 2022 Games will be awarded in 2015.

"The original foreseen dates for the 2022 World Cup was mid-June, end of July. That is what is what was in the documents. FIFA voted on this with (playing in) air-conditioned venues," said Rogge.

Blatter told reporters in the Qatari capital before the opening match of the Asian Cup last week: "I expect it will be held in the winter."

"We have time to look at this question, it is still 11 years away but we must decide the most adequate period for a successful World Cup which means January or the end of the year."

Qatar was awarded the finals despite a report from FIFA's own inspectors that said playing matches in the summer when temperatures soar to more than 40 degrees Celsius posed a health risk to players and fans alike.

Since Qatar was chosen there has been a groundswell of opinion that the tournament should be staged in winter.

Blatter said that even though Qatar's bid document made no reference to switching from the traditional June and July period, FIFA were not bending the rules.

"Do not forget there are still 11 years to go and although we have the basic conditions of their bid for a June and July World Cup, the FIFA executive committee is entitled to change anything that was in the bid," he said.