The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar looks set to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games that year after Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa claimed the best months for the tournament to take part are November and December.
Shaikh Salman, who heads the FIFA Task Force charged with sourcing potential dates to host the competition, is quoted as saying the "matter is resolved", according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.
"The period best suited for hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be in November and December because for sure it needs to be played in the winter," he said.
FIFA are keen to stage the World Cup in the winter due to the searing temperatures in the summer in Qatar, and January and February 2022 were originally suggested as potential dates for the tournament to take place.
But after Almaty and Beijing, the two cities in the running to host the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2022, both touted February 4 to 20 as the dates to stage the Games in their candidature files released earlier this month, the prospect of a clash with the World Cup loomed large.
That fear looks to have been quashed, according to Shaikh Salman, which will come as a welcome relief to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Current FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who will bid to earn a fifth term in office when the Presidential election takes place in Zurich on May 29, is opposed to the idea of a clash between the World Cup and Winter Olympics, which would have had serious repercussions for broadcasters around the world and a number of sponsors who are involved in both events.
"Definitely I, as an International Olympic Committee member, would be against holding the World Cup at the same time as the Winter Olympics," Blatter exclusively told insidethegames last month.
"That is a fact."
IOC President Thomas Bach also claimed recently that there would be "no winners" if the two major sporting events were to occur in the same month.
"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," he said.
"To manage these two kinds of programmes at the same time would be very difficult, so in the end there would be no winners."
The FIFA Task Force are due to meet on February 23, before a final decision is made by the world governing body's ruling Executive Committee in March.
While some of sport's most influential Presidents seem to be vehemently opposed to a clash between the two events, the news that the World Cup may happen in November and December could anger the major European leagues who are concerned about the disruption a winter tournament would have on their domestic programmes.
The European Club Association (ECA) and the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) will be represented at the task force meeting and they are expected to put forward May and early June as their preferred dates for the 2022 World Cup.
The host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is due to be chosen on July 31 at the 127th IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur.
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