DOHA, Qatar – A FIFA executive committee member from Qatar is now open to discussing changing the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.
Mohamed bin Hammam, also president of the Asian Football Confederation, has repeatedly said he wants the World Cup during summer. But on Thursday, he softened his stance.
"I'm not opposed, but I'm not proposing," Bin Hammam said, adding that any discussion should not take place until after 2018, when Russia will host the World Cup.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has supported a switch to avoid Qatar's searing heat in Qatar. FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer was the first to suggest the idea, and he was followed by UEFA President Michel Platini. Blatter said it was worth studying and FIFPro, which represents professional soccer players worldwide, said the event must be held in winter.
But the big soccer clubs are reluctant to change the international calendar and are fear a loss of revenue from breaking up the season.
Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup last month despite concerns over heat that routinely exceeds 104 degrees. Soon after Qatar beat out the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea, soccer executives began urging a switch to January, when it is much cooler in Qatar.
On Thursday, FIFA said in a statement that "at this stage" there are "no concrete plans" for a change. The governing body said such a change must be initiated by Qatar's soccer federation and presented to FIFA's executive committee."
FIFA has said Qatar until now has not requested a date change, and a spokesman for the bid says it will not comment until after an organizing committee is formed in the coming weeks.
Bin Hammam found it "bizarre" so much attention was directed at the 2022 World Cup when several other tournaments await in the next decade.
"It's quite strange," he said. "The World Cup 2014 is just three years from today and no one is speaking about it. It's quite uncomfortable for me."
In December, Bin Hammam told a soccer conference that at a winter World Cup players would be in better shape and not exhausted after a grueling season. But last week he told Sky News that Qatar would "face all the challenges" and meet all requirements.
"Our focus is June, July," he said.
Bin Hammam is considered a possible candidate to run for the FIFA presidency. On Thursday he refused to comment on whether he would run against Blatter in June.