By Nick Butler at the Holiday Inn Resort Hotel in Phuket

Sheikh Ahmad believes the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup should take place in winter ©Getty ImagesOlympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has claimed that a decision to move the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to the winter will be announced within the next two months. 

It follows publication on Thursday (November 13) of the controversial FIFA investigation into the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which cleared both Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing, leaving both countries free to host the tournament for the first time. 

Sheikh Ahmad, one of the most influential power-brokers in world sport, claimed football's showpiece event will take place either in October and November or in January and February.

Asia will not bow to external pressure for it to remain in summer, he warned, just as it did not buckle under the strain of corruption allegations and calls for Qatar to be revoked of its hosting rights. 

"They have to follow us, we don't follow people," he told insidethegames during the Asian Beach Games here today.

"For that we will speak, January and February, or October or November.

"Wait two months and you will see, nobody will speak winter or summer - finished." 

In recent weeks, several European bodies have put forward alternative solutions in an attempt to avoid a major clash with the continent's domestic leagues, as well as with other sporting events, such as the Superbowl and Winter Olympics.

The European Clubs Association (ECA), led by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has suggested April and May would be the "best option" both in terms of climate and the football calendar, while the Association of European Professional Football Leagues believe it should remain in summer, but with matches taking place after midnight to ensure cooler temperatures. 

But a switch to the winter is deemed necessary a bid to avoid the searing summer temperatures in the Gulf nation, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitting it would be impossible to hold the event in the traditional June/July slot.

ECA chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sees April and May as the best time-frame for the World Cup ©Bongarts/Getty ImagesECA chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sees April and May as the best time-frame for the World Cup ©Bongarts/Getty Images

After months of corruption accusations surrounding Qatar's bid, mainly led by the British media, a 42-page summary of the report by FIFA's ethics investigator Michael Garcia cleared both Russia and Qatar.

Instead, other countries, such as England and Australia, are accused of attempting to "manipulate" FIFA officials during their unsuccessful bids.

Garcia, a United States attorney who spent 18 months conducting his internal report, has criticised the summary for "containing numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions".

But there now appears no danger either Russia or Qatar will be stripped of their hosting rights. 

Sheikh Ahmad, the Kuwaiti who has consistently defended Qatar and accused western media of launching racially motivated accusations, was delighted with the publication of the report. 

"Now I'm happy because all I was speaking and announcing over the last few years, officially, FIFA have bravely said it," he said.

"But for us, this has been decided for a long time.

"We are confident we didn't do anything and we are sure nobody can take it from us.

"We never doubted that we had a clean fight, we never lost our confidence that we are ready to host it."

Events such as the Asian Beach Games, which Sheikh Ahmad is currently attending in Phuket, are further strong advertisements for Asian sport ©Phuket 2014Events such as the Asian Beach Games, which Sheikh Ahmad is currently attending in Phuket, are further strong advertisements for Asian sport ©Phuket 2014

Sheikh Ahmad, also an International Olympic Committee member and President of the Association of National Olympic Committees, hopes that Asia can now concentrate on preparing to become the centre of the sporting world over the next few years. 

Besides the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the world's largest continent will also host three consecutive Olympics, Pyeongchang in 2018, Tokyo 2020 and either Almaty or Beijing in 2022. 

"In the next 12 years, I will welcome you all here to Qatar 2022 and two Winter Games," Sheikh Ahmad said.

"I am proud our region has developed and we are ready with our infrastructure and many of our cities are ready to host any international event.

"We will lead, because we love sport, and we invest in sport, and we are equal with anybody in sport around the world.

"We have unity, friendship, solidarity, we will never be in the back row.

"We are in the first row with all our colleagues as one family."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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