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'Qatar finals to finish by December 18'

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has insisted the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will finish no later than December 18 - a move which would protect English football's traditional St Stephen's Day games.

Blatter's promise was welcomed by David Gill, Britain's UEFA vice-president and an English Football Association board member, who said FA Cup replays, international friendly dates and the two-legged League Cup semi-finals may have to be given up to accommodate the winter World Cup.

UEFA has proposed playing the final at the tournament on December 23, just two days before Christmas, to lessen disruption of its own international matches.

But Blatter, speaking for the first time since a FIFA task force confirmed November/December for the 2022 World Cup, said: "Not until the 23rd, definitely not. We have to stop at the 18th."