Uefa members back winter World Cup

The prospect of a winter World Cup in 2022 took a step forward after Europe’s football leaders agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar.

The nation won a controversial bidding process to stage the competition, where summer temperatures can reach 50C.

Uefa’s 54 member associations backed the move at a meeting in Croatia.

“What has come out of this meeting is that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,” said Britain’s Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce.

“Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.”

Boyce added that the debate was now regarding whether it would be played in January 2022 or November and December of that year.

The British associations want to ensure their festive fixtures are protected for their domestic league seasons, while Uefa favour January so that it would not impact on the Champions League.

But Boyce, who is also a former president of the Irish Football Association, says the associations do not want Fifa to rush that decision.

“There is still nine years to go and people feel Fifa should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football.

“There is plenty of time to do that in my opinion, and hopefully football will be the winner.”

The decision to move the World Cup to winter ultimately rests with the world governing body, but this backing sends a strong message from some of the most powerful bodies in international football.

Fifa’s executive committee is expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup to the winter at its meeting in Zurich which begins on 3 October.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said the tournament might have to move location if a suitable time to play in Qatar could not be agreed, while Fifa’s own medical chief, Michel D’Hooghe, advised that the risks posed to supporters by extreme heat are too great.

However, the head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi,has rejected calls for the tournament to be awarded to another country, despite Fifa president Sepp Blatter admitting the governing body may have made a “mistake” in awarding the competition to Qatar in the summer.

Earlier this week, Australia’s soccer chief Frank Lowy said his country’s Football Federation (FFA) may seek compensation if the 2022 World Cup is switched to the winter after his country lost out to Qatar.