November/December the best World Cup option, even for Europe

Tue Feb 24, 2015 7:25am EST
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - The FIFA Task Force set up to recommend the best time of year to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar were always in an impossible position, from the moment they sat down to consider the options.

But Tuesday's recommendation to stage it over November and December is probably the best option for all -- even though Europe's major clubs disagree.

The European giants will have seven years to get used to the idea that they must re-schedule five or six matches in the winter of 2022, for the first time in almost 100 years of World Cup soccer.

For once, they may have to put soccer's wider interests ahead of their own, as Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al­Khalifa, the head of the Task Force, implied.

"Some people have concerns, but whatever decision you're going to take will have some questions about it," he said on the sidelines of a meeting which settled on the proposals.

"But we need to look at the overall benefit for everybody."

There had been effectively four options facing the Task Force which was holding its third and final meeting in Doha on Tuesday.

Had they recommended a January and February tournament, the World Cup would clash with, among other things, the globally-televised Winter Olympics, the NFL Superbowl and the Australian Open tennis championships.   Continued...

Journalists are reflected in a logo at the FIFA headquarters after a meeting of the executive committee in Zurich October 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann