By Duncan Mackay

Qatar 2022 stadiumMarch 2 - FIFA has for the first time - publicly, at least - acknowledged that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar may have to be moved to the winter because of the health risk of playing in the intense heat in the Middle East country during the summer could pose.

Until now FIFA has always maintained that the event would take place in June and July as normal and that there were no plans to switch it in the calendar. 

But Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of FIFA, has admitted that the ruling Executive Committee have serious concerns about the prospect of the world's top players taking part in matches where the temperature could exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Maybe the Fifa Ex-Co will say based on medical report or whatever we really have to look at playing the World Cup not in summer but in winter," said Valcke at the International Football Association Board meeting in Edinburgh today. 

A number of the countries - most notably Australia - who were beaten in the controversial campaign in December 2010 to host 2022 have mooted the threat of legal action if the tournament's dates are changed, claiming that FIFA would be breaking their own rules.

Sepp Blatter reading out Qatar as 2022 World Cup hostFIFA President Sepp Blatter has been dogged by controversy ever since Qatar were awarded the 2022 World Cup more than two years ago

Valcke, though, is dismissive of such threats.

"Would you think we would open a discussion if we are not sure there would be no legal challenge to do so?" he said.

Valcke's admission was made after UEFA President Michel Platini had once again called upon FIFA to change the dates. 

He had German newspaper Bild today that the summer heat would be "unbearable" for fans and players.

"The World Cup must be played in the winter, because of the ­climate," Platini, the favourite to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA President in 2015, said in an interview with the newspaper.

"You can't play football in 40 degrees heat and the fans would find it too hard."

Moving the World Cup to the winter would cause massive disruption to the European leagues, where most of the top players are based, but Valcke claimed that is a hurdle easily overcome. 

"As long as we have not fixed the international calendar [2019 to 2022] all alternatives are open," he said.

"It's in 2022, nine years and we have two World Cups to organise in Brazil and Russia [before Qatar].

"So there is some time.

"The most important thing is to make sure [we] work with all stakeholders and make sure there is full agreement with all parties, leagues, clubs, and we would have to find eight weeks in the mid-season to play the World Cup."