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FIFA quashes talk of winter World Cup

By Brian Homewood

BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA has quashed talk of a winter World Cup in 2022, saying it has no plans to change the international calendar and that any switch of dates would have to be proposed by the Qatari hosts.

Qatar has already said it wants to stage the tournament in the summer as presented in its bid.

"Any potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup from a summer to a winter period would have to be initiated by the football association of Qatar and would have to be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee," FIFA said in a statement.

"At this stage there are no concrete plans to change the international match calendar."

Blatter's comments echoed those of other leading figures including UEFA president Michel Platini, who even suggested that Qatar could co-host the event with some of its neighbors.

But Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, said the 2022 World Cup hosts would resist efforts to reschedule the tournament.

"We submitted a bid suggesting we are going to be ready in June and July. And we said we are going to face all the challenges and we are going to meet all the requirements," Bin Hammam told Sky News last week.

"Our focus is June, July. It is never our interest to change one week beyond June and July."

Blatter's comment led to suggestions that FIFA was effectively changing the rules as the contest for the 2022 World Cup, in which Qatar beat Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea, was based around a June-July tournament.

U.S. media called for the contest to be staged again if the tournament was moved from its original spot.

Qatar has insisted that the fierce summer heat will not be a problem as all its stadiums will be air-conditioned.

It has also said the stadiums can be dismantled at the end and shipped off to developing nations.

However, this has failed to allay fears about the summer weather.

Philipp Lahm, who captained Germany at last year's World Cup, said it would be "madness" to stage a summer World Cup in the Middle East and FIFA's inspection team said conditions were a potential health hazard to players and supporters.

FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer, who represents the U.S., told Reuters that switching the event to winter may take 10 weeks out of the international club season and would "upset the entire football world."

(Editing by Ed Osmond)