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September 26, 2015

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Qatar WCup set for November kickoff

DESPITE hastily canceling a news conference scheduled with President Sepp Blatter after the surprise arrival of Swiss federal police at its headquarters, FIFA did make some decisions during its two-day executive committee meeting that ended in Zurich yesterday.

Among the decisions announced through a press release, FIFA said the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played over 28 days, starting on Monday, November 21, and ending on Sunday, December 18, Qatar’s national holiday.

FIFA had decided in March to switch the 2022 tournament from June-July to avoid Qatar’s summer heat. A 28-day World Cup is four fewer than usual and is designed to cause less disruption to clubs and leagues which must shut down for several peak midseason weeks.

FIFA had delayed choosing a kickoff date in Qatar while it held talks on the 2019-2024 schedule of national team fixtures. The international calendar mandates when clubs must release players for national-team duty.

The calendar approved yesterday means clubs must release players to the 32 World Cup teams by Monday, November 14, 2022 — one week before the opening match.

No national team match dates — either qualifiers for continental championships or friendlies — have been set for October 2022.

Instead, the two fixtures typically scheduled in October will be moved forward four months. That creates a four-match program for national teams, scheduled between May 30 and June 14, 2022, at the end of the European season.

In a minor switch, the September double-header of national team matches will be pushed back two weeks to start on September 20, 2022.

Next meeting

Among other things, FIFA’s executive meeting also decided on the next meeting.

FIFA said the next executive meeting will take place in Zurich instead of Japan, a change from what had been originally scheduled.

The Japanese delegation arrived in Zurich expecting to host the meeting during the Club World Cup in December, but FIFA announced on Tuesday it needed to reevaluate the date and venue. Japanese football association president Kuniya Daini said a few days ago that he still expected the meeting to be held in Japan, but FIFA decided to keep it at its Swiss headquarters.

Hosting the meeting in Switzerland instead of Japan would significantly diminish the risk of arrests, including of Blatter, amid separate US and Swiss investigations into corruption in world soccer. Football officials have been reluctant to visit countries which have an extradition treaty with the United States, which spearheaded the main investigation earlier this year.

It will be the final executive meeting of the year, and the last before Blatter is scheduled to be replaced on February 26.


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