IOC chief Bach happy with FIFA moves to pick 2022 WCup dates

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) IOC President Thomas Bach is happy with FIFA's moves toward choosing dates for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that do not clash with the Winter Olympics.

Bach said he was encouraged by the ''latest signals that this is going in the right direction.''

A FIFA working group aims to recommend playing dates for the 2022 World Cup at a Feb. 23 meeting in Doha, Qatar.

A clash of dates between the Olympics and World Cup would be a ''lose-lose situation,'' and ''cause major problems'' for broadcasters and sponsors, Bach claimed during a visit on Tuesday to the Alpine skiing world championships.

Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, are bidding for the 2022 Games. Both propose dates of Feb. 4-20.

FIFA plans to move the 2022 World Cup out of the traditional June-July slot to avoid the brutal Qatari heat.

European soccer body UEFA is leading support for a January kickoff, requiring a World Cup final in early February.

However, FIFA President Sepp Blatter - a longstanding IOC member - has assured Bach there will be no clash with the Olympics. Blatter says he favors a November-December tournament.

FIFA's executive committee has final approval on the World Cup dates, and could make that decision at a March 19-20 meeting in Zurich.

Still, many soccer leaders involved in FIFA's consultation disagree with Blatter, and prefer holding the tournament mostly in January or May 2022.

European clubs and leagues have proposed a May 5-June 4 tournament to minimize disruption in their traditional August-May seasons. League schedules could need to be altered across three seasons to accommodate a November-December tournament.

Even FIFA's preferred option goes head-to-head with winter sports, such as Alpine skiing, which traditionally races in North America, Finland, France, and Italy during pre-Christmas weeks.

''Of course it's not for the best for our December races but we can live with it. That's how it is,'' International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper said.

Kasper lobbied Blatter two years ago on behalf of Olympic winter sports federations to keep the World Cup out of their peak season.

''Now, it looks like they (FIFA) will at least not overlap with the Olympics,'' Kasper said. ''It's already something.''

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