November 7 - Any decision on whether to switch the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup from summer to winter must be taken within the next two years to make it logistically possible.
That was the message today from Hassan Al Thawadi (pictured top), the man who led Qatar's campaign team and who now heads the organising committee.
Ever since the tiny Gulf state upset the odds two years ago to win the right to stage the 2022 World Cup, pressure has been growing to break with tradition and bring the event forward several months to avoid the searing summer desert heat.
UEFA President Michel Platini has continually pressed for the tournament to be staged in winter, supported by several other senior football officials and millions of fans worldwide.
Al Thawadi, who is asked about a winter World Cup at virtually every sporting conference he attends in Europe, revealed for the first time that a deadline would have to be put in place for this to happen.
"Our bid was always based on a summer World Cup and we are proceeding with planning for a summer World Cup in 2022," he said.
"Having said that I know there are prominent members of the international football community who have raised preferences for the winter, whether the governing body or otherwise.
"We have always said that whatever the international community comes up with, we're happy to accommodate.
"[But] we'd have to look at it, probably, by 2013 or 2014, mainly because of the international calendar.
"That would be the most realistic deadline.
"Our legacy promises in terms of developing cooling technology will continue, summer or winter."
Although Qatar has little footballing pedigree and is struggling to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Al Thawadi said he was confident the country would be no pushovers by the time they host the tournament.
"There is a lot of investment going on to improve the game," he said.
"By 2022 we will have a team that will able to meet aspirations but I'm also confident that even before 2022 we will make an appearance in the World Cup – and an honourable appearance as well."
Al Thawadi has long talked of the Qatar World Cup being a tournament for the entire Middle East region but he would not comment on Platini's call to expand the tournament to neighbouring states beyond Qatar's borders.
"It's not part of our plans and no discussions have taken place," he said.
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