Organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have said they are willing to stage the tournament in the winter to avoid footballers playing in the country’s scorching summer months.
Ahead of a two-day meeting of football’s world governing body Fifa to discuss switching the tournament from its traditional slot, officials said they would not object to the move.
However, they insisted they could still run games in the summer, when temperatures exceed 40C, by fitting stadiums with cooling systems powered by renewable energy.
“If the international football community reaches a consensus to move the event to an alternate date, we are able to accommodate that change,” a spokesman for the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said.
“This would not affect our planning and preparation. Our commitment to cooling technologies will continue, for without it certain parts of the world will be denied the right to host such events.”
The meeting of Fifa’s executive committee in Zurich will discuss how best to avoid the searing heat of June and July.
There are fears switching the competition to the winter months would cause major disruption to British and European domestic leagues, whose seasons traditionally end before the World Cup begins.
Sky’s Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso said a move to a November date to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics is the most likely outcome, adding: “From the moment the tiny Gulf state was chosen, it was as clear as the Zurich mountain air that it would be problematic at best and a catastrophic folly at worst.
“It should not have needed experts to explain that playing the world’s greatest football tournament in the desert in summer was lunacy, but Fifa commissioned some anyway.”
Greg Clarke, chairman of the Sky Bet Football League and part of England’s unsuccessful attempt to stage the 2018 World Cup, said the tender to host the 2022 tournament should now be re-run.
“There were some really good bids from places like Australia and the USA who spent a lot of money, have a great footballing culture and really wanted to run the World Cup,” he said.
“They were excluded on the grounds it was going to be in the summer and it was going to be in Qatar.
“If I was them, I would be less than happy if Fifa is now changing the rules.”
Uefa’s 54 member associations have already backed the principle of a winter World Cup, a proposal championed by the European body’s president Michel Platini.
Last month, he said he did not expect a decision this week, adding he was more concerned with an investigation which uncovered alleged mistreatment of migrant workers in Qatar.