(Reuters) - European football federations have agreed it would be “impossible” to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in summer as planned and a task force will be set up to find an alternative.
“Obviously there are certain reservations regarding the World Cup in Qatar but everyone agrees that it would be impossible to play in the severe heat of Qatar in the summer,” FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told Sky television.
“It is very important that we get this right,” he added, speaking in a phone interview after a meeting of the 54 European football federations in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
“They all agree that to play the World Cup, to take thousands of fans to the biggest sporting event in the middle of summer would be impossible.”
FIFA is expected to agree in principle to the switch at its next executive committee meeting in October.
“It is very important that we get this right,” added Boyce.
”I think what will happen is that they will probably agree for everyone, including the people in Qatar of course, to sit round a table and come up with a solution.
“What has happened has happened. It is in Qatar and at the end of the day what has to happen here is that the best interests of football are sorted out and I am confident that will happen. It is purely a one-off.”
Last week, the association representing European clubs said they would not be opposed to a re-scheduling of the tournament but added they wanted to be consulted about the new timing.
Qatar has said, despite the searing temperatures, it can stage the World Cup in the summer by building air-conditioned stadiums using newly environmentally-friendly technology. Stadiums would be cooled to around 28 Celsius.
However, there are still worries about how fans will deal with the heat away from the stadiums.
In recent interviews, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that his organization had never specially stated that the World Cup had to be held in summer when it awarded the hosting of the tournament in 2010.
His comments came after suggestions that the other countries bidding for the tournament could take legal action, or call for a re-vote, if the timing of the tournament was changed.
On Tuesday, Australia’s soccer chief Frank Lowy warned FIFA not to rush a decision on switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the northern hemisphere winter and said other bidders should be compensated if the move goes ahead.
Japan, South Korea and the United States, which itself suffers from scorching summer weather in many parts of the country, lost out in the race to host the event.
Re-scheduling would force a change of the European domestic calendar and clubs and leagues fear they could lose out financially.
UEFA president Michel Platini, who has publicly said he voted for Qatar, is among those in favor of a change, suggesting that January-February would be the best time.
However, this could clash with the Winter Olympics, also to be staged in 2022.
Reporting by Clare Fallon; Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Alison Wildey