FIFA has confirmed that the final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played on December 18, the country’s national day.
FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio said on Thursday the announcement was a “major step” and said the executive committee of football’s world governing body could confirm the start date on Friday.
|Analysis from Al Jazeera sports presenter Robin Adams|
1,568 days. That’s how long it’s taken the custodians of world football to finally decide on a date for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The gas-rich Gulf state had always maintained it was ready to deliver a World Cup in the traditional June-July months, in the European summer when most of the leagues on the continent take their break.
But Qatar’s temperatures can exceed 50C during that time of year – so holding one of the biggest sports events on the planet attracting was quite simply not going to be practical, even with air conditioned stadiums.
FIFA had to be seen to be consulting far and wide. They took their time. It’s worth noting that the awarding of this particular World Cup 12 years ahead of the event is unprecedented. So Sepp Blatter and co didn’t need to rush this decision.
And here we are over 1,500 days later knowing what we knew the day the Middle East won the rights to host their first ever World Cup. It’s going to be a European winter World Cup.
“It is a major step because finally we know and we can move forward,” De Gregorio said in a statement at FIFA headquarters.
“In principle we will try to play in 28 days. The next stage will be to have talks … in particular related to the international match calendar.”
FIFA’s executive committee prefers a 28-day tournament, four days fewer than usual and starting on November 21, but did not make a decision in the opening session of its two-day meeting.
The November through to December option had been expected after being recommended by a FIFA-appointed task force which met last month in Doha, the Qatari capital.
The task force sought to take FIFA’s lucrative event out of the Qatari summer heat in the June to July period when World Cups are traditionally played.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter then said he preferred a Sunday, December 18, final. Every World Cup final since 1966 has been played on a Sunday.
By rejecting UEFA’s preferred December 23 final, a Friday, the FIFA executive committee helped protect the English Premier League’s traditional December 26 program.
A 28-day World Cup would cut the time clubs must release players to national teams.
Both FIFA and Qatar have fought off questions of corruption ever since they were awarded the tournament back in 2010, with Qatar accusing its critics of a clear bias against the Gulf monarchy.