Football regulating body FIFA has said that will begin discussing the possible dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during a meeting that it is convening with football officials next week.
FIFA said that the September 8 meeting at its Zurich headquarters will include representatives from the six continental confederations along with clubs, leagues and players’ unions from around the world.
Bahrain’s Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation, will lead the meeting.
FIFA said a second meeting has been scheduled for November, and a final decision is expected to be taken by March 2015.
While the FIFA World Cup is traditionally played during the months of June-July, Qatar’s extreme summer temperatures, reaching between 45-50 degree celsius, have posed a challenge.
Qatar, which won the rights to host the World Cup in December 2010, has stressed that it can host the tournament even during the summer by providing air-conditioned stadiums and venues.
But FIFA President Sepp Blatter has ruled out playing the tournament in Qatar during the hot months, even saying earlier this year that it was a “mistake” to have awarded the hosting rights to the Gulf country because of its high temperatures.
“You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country and you can’t simply cool down the ambience of a World Cup,” Blatter told a conference in Austria last year.
“The players must be able to play in the best conditions to play a good World Cup.”
Qatari officials have said that they are open to changing the dates if decided by FIFA.
However, Europeans leagues and clubs have disagreed with moving the tournament to the winter, since it would clash heavily with their schedules.
Apart from weather problems, Qatar has also faced a spate of issues surrounding its successful World Cup bid, including allegations of corruption, which the Gulf state strongly denies.
FIFA has appointed an investigation committee to probe the charges, and a final report is due to be released this week. If the bribery charges are found to be true, the country’s hosting rights may even be withdrawn, according to reports.