By David Owen at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has claimed he would be against the 2022 World Cup in Qatar clashing with the Winter Olympics but refused to rule it out ©Getty ImagesFIFA President Sepp Blatter appears to have left open the possibility that the 2022 World Cup may - after all - be played in January and February, in a prospect that will horrify Winter Sports Federations.

Asked by insidethegames in Monaco whether a January/February 2022 World Cup was now definitely out of the question, Blatter replied that: "Definitely I, as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, would be against holding the World Cup at the same time as the Winter Olympics.

"That is a fact."

His answer seemed to imply that he might be powerless to prevent such an eventuality.

FIFA have narrowed down the likely dates for 2022 to January/February or November/December, the motivation for the unusual timing being host Qatar's ferocious summer heat.

There remains, however, some support for the notion of bringing the tournament forward by just a month or two, rather than scheduling it for the Northern Hemisphere winter, with all the disruption to football and sports schedules that would entail.

Some, meanwhile, persist in thinking that the competition may ultimately remain in its traditional June/July slot, owing to the myriad difficulties of trying to engineer a move.

Still others even believe that the World Cup may yet be taken away from Qatar.

A final ruling on the timing slot is expected next spring, a few months before the IOC selects either Beijing or Almaty, Kazakhstan as the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic host.

Qatar 2022 has been mired in controversy since FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced more than four years ago that they would host the World Cup ©Getty ImagesQatar 2022 has been mired in controversy since FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced more than four years ago that they would host the World Cup ©Getty Images

IOC President Thomas Bach recently claimed there would be "no winners" if the Winter Games and the World Cup coincided.

"A clash would be bad for the international audience who would have two major sports programmes broadcast worldwide, so the public's attention would be divided," Bach said.

"Also for the sponsors, there are some that are common to FIFA and the IOC.

"To manage these two kinds of programmes at the same time would be very difficult, so in the end there would be no winners."

Coca-Cola and Visa sponsor both FIFA and the IOC, while another IOC sponsor Samsung is seen by some as a natural replacement for Sony at FIFA.

Samsung officials, approached by insidethegames, appeared not to think this very likely, however.

Blatter, who will retire as a full IOC member at the end of 2016, promised in November 2013 that FIFA would not play the World Cup in January and February, saying it would be "totally disrespectful to the Olympic family".

Two other FIFA Executive Committee members - Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Lydia Nsekera of Burundi – are also IOC members.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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