European countries have given their backing to moving the finals in Qatar to avoid the extreme heat of the summer, with some keen to play in January and February instead. Those dates would impact on the Winter Olympics and the IOC would stand in the way of any such move, with the ultimate sanction of kicking football out of the summer Games.
The IOC said they were confident that FIFA would hold talks with them to avoid a clash. An IOC spokesman said: "We were aware that FIFA might consider changing the dates for the 2022 World Cup. We are confident that FIFA will discuss the dates with us so as to co-ordinate them and avoid any affect on the Winter Games."
FIFA's executive committee is now expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup at a meeting in Zurich on October 3/4, after the 54 European countries in UEFA agreed to a switch. Jim Boyce, the Northern Irish FIFA vice-president, said UEFA want FIFA to hold further talks before making any decision.
Speaking from a UEFA meeting in Dubrovnik, Boyce said: "What has come out of this meeting, and what I think is sensible, is an agreement that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer. But what the 54 countries do not want FIFA to do is to make a decision yet on exactly when it is going to be played. There is still nine years to go and people feel FIFA should sit down with the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that causes the minimum disruption to football."
There could well be disagreements, however, over whether it is played in January 2022 or November/December of that year. The British associations told the meeting they want to make sure the Christmas week is protected for domestic football, while UEFA chiefs favour January so that it would not impact on the Champions League.
Last week, Jerome Valcke, FIFA's general secretary said that festive matches would not be affected and there was no chance of moving the tournament from Qatar. Valcke said: "The World Cup will not be played between December 24-January 1, so that will mean Boxing Day is safe. We are not talking about removing we are talking about moving, that's key."
At least one of the four groups at the Dubrovnik meeting, including one including the Scottish Football Association, suggested January 22 2022 as a start date, and Boyce said his personal preference would be for the end of January and February.