Zurich: FIFA showed little enthusiasm towards a proposal to stage the 2022 World Cup in April and May, saying on Monday that January/February or November/December remained the most likely options for the tournament in Qatar.
Soccer`s governing body said there were medical concerns at holding the competition during any period between May and September while Ramadan would affect preparations if the tournament were to be held in May.
“We are getting closer to narrowing the dates.....to two options – January/February 2022 or November/December 2022 – but FIFA has also been asked to consider May 2022," said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke following a meeting of the task force set up to determine when the tournament should be held.
The world players` union FIFPro also opposed a summer World Cup, saying that "we must avoid the hottest months at all costs, irrespective of what was suggested during the bidding procedure."
Qatar were ranked bottom of the nations bidding to stage the World Cup by FIFA`s own technical study group before the vote was taken in December 2010.
However, Qatar saw off rival bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea to become the first Arab state to stage the tournament.
The award of the World Cup to the tiny Middle-East emirate has been the subject of an investigation by New York attorney Michael Garcia over the last 18 months, set up to establish whether any corruption was involved in the decision taken by the FIFA executive committee.
Garcia`s findings are now being studied by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert, the head of FIFA`s independent adjudicatory chamber, who is expected to issue his initial report later this month.
The European Clubs’ Association, seeking as little disruption to the traditional European calendar as possible, suggested last week that April/May would cause less disruption to the club season and that temperatures during that period would not be hotter than at some previous World Cups provided matches were played in the evening.
The task force, which includes representatives from clubs, leagues, players and local organisers was meeting for the second time.
Qatar was awarded the competition on the basis that it would be staged in June/July using naturally cooled stadiums to alleviate the effects of the desert heat.
Despite this, there is widespread agreement that the tournament should be held in cooler months.
FIFA said that its chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak provided a report on the medical concerns related to player safety and fan safety if the World Cup were to be held between May and September.
Valcke also highlighted that "the month-long period of Ramadan would begin on 2 April in 2022, which would have an impact on a number of players in their preparations for any April/May option and with regard to the preparation of the event itself."
FIFPro, whose general secretary Theo van Seggelen took part in the meeting, said it would not accept any decision which risked the players` health.
"The health and safety of the players is non-negotiable. While we understand the concerns of those whose competitions will be affected, FIFPro will not be swayed to endorse a World Cup that puts the health of the players at risk," it said in a statement.
"Staging a World Cup in and around the oppressive summer months of Qatar is simply not an option. It is a huge health risk that no responsible stakeholder should be willing to take."
"What we see now in discussions between the various stakeholders is not healthy for the game," added FIFPro.
"Some people only seem interested in talking about the commercial perspective and compensation to cover the apparent financial consequences of moving a World Cup from its traditional dates."
"To avoid this kind of problem in the future, we need to revisit the governance of football," it added.
"How was this decision taken in the first place? If it had been in consultation with the players, through FIFPro, we`d be having a very different discussion."