FIFA confirm 2022 World Cup will not take place during summer months
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar looks set to be played in November after FIFA's secretary general stated that the tournament "will not be in June or July".
Jerome Valcke, who has been given the task of looking at alternative dates due to the fierce heat of the summer in Qatar, says it is likely to be held some time between November 15 and January 15.
Valcke may have jumped the gun - FIFA insists it is just his personal view and that no decision has been made - but it now looks certain to be in the winter of 2022 with November the most likely date.
He has been in close contact with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and has agreed to avoid any clash with Christmas fixtures. He also needs to avoid the winter Olympics in the February of 2022 which leaves November as the only realistic option.
Valcke told France Info radio station: "It will not be in June or July."
He added: "Frankly I think it'll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.
"If you play between November 15 and the end of the year that's when the weather is at its most favourable."
Valcke suggested it will be "like a warm spring in Europe" with "an average temperature of 25 degrees, therefore it's perfect for football".
FIFA said in a statement that Valcke was expressing his own view and that no decision would be taken on the timing before this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
The statement said: "Secretary General Jerome Valcke explained today in the Radio France interview - as he had already mentioned previously - that in his view the 2022 FIFA World Cup must take place in winter and the best possible timeframe would be 15 November to 15 January.
"However, the precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community (FIFA, confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players) as well as FIFA's commercial partners (commercial affiliates and media rights licensees).
"As the event will not be played until eight years' time the consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.
"Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil as agreed by the FIFA executive committee."
Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said he was "totally surprised" by Valcke's disclosure.
Boyce told Press Association Sport: "I was totally surprised this morning when I heard what Jerome has said.
"As I understand it all the stakeholders will have discussions and report back to the executive committee of FIFA and no final decision will be made on when the 2022 World Cup would be played until December 2014 or March 2015.
"As far as I am concerned that remains the situation and there has been nothing said to me to make that any different."
Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said Valcke "may have been stating his personal opinion".
He also said there had been a general assumption that the 2022 World Cup could not be played in the summer due to the heat. That view has previously been expressed by UEFA's 54 member countries and FIFA president Sepp Blatter but no decision on alternative dates has been taken.
"There is an expectation but there has been no decision," said Boyce.
Qatar 2022 organisers said they would be ready to host the World Cup whatever decision was taken.
A statement said:"During the FIFA executive committee meeting in October it was agreed that FIFA would enter a period of consultation on the ideal time of year to host the World Cup in Qatar - with a recommendation expected after the World Cup in Brazil.
"We await the outcome of this consultation period. We will be ready to host the World Cup regardless of the outcome."
Valcke and Blatter held talks with the association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) in Zurich on Wednesday morning and stressed no decision had been taken.
Frederic Thiriez, EPFL chairman and chairman of the French League, said: "I can confirm that FIFA's position as to the timing of the 2022 World Cup has not changed since its executive committee of last October 3: a wide consultation process and no hasty decision, as the EPFL had requested.
"In other words: 'Nothing new under the sun'."