September 09, 2014

GENEVA (AP) Europe's top football clubs still need to be convinced the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be moved from summer.

Although FIFA President Sepp Blatter has presented a switch to November-December as almost inevitable, the European Club Association wants to influence ongoing consultation talks.

''We need more information before accepting the fact that the calendar should be disrupted,'' ECA vice chairman Umberto Gandini said Tuesday. ''We would not be part of something which is not credible.''

Gandini represents the 200-member ECA on a FIFA panel seeking ways to avoid playing in the desert heat of June-July. The AC Milan director updated European club leaders about the first FIFA consultation held Monday, and said a decision on choosing dates was expected from ''March to June 2015.''

FIFA on Monday offered two alternative options, including a November-December tournament, which would shut down top European leagues for two months. The other was January-February, though Blatter previously assured IOC President Thomas Bach that the World Cup will not clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, likely in February.

''There's obviously some resistance to move to break away from tradition - that's normal, that's natural but a lot of people believe this is the World Cup and belongs to the world,'' Qatar organizing committee communications director Nasser Al-Khater said at the SoccerEx conference in Manchester after attending the FIFA meeting. ''This could be the first time a World Cup is moved in terms of timings and maybe this becomes the norm for the future and becomes a template that we can move.''

Still, the June-July tournament promised by Qatar should be a starting point for talks, Gandini said in Geneva.

The ECA is supported by the English Premier League among 40 delegates from world football who attended Monday's session at FIFA.

''We must get very strong and decisive reasons for moving the World Cup,'' Gandini said, noting European clubs' key role in employing 75 percent of all players selected to the World Cup in Brazil.

Gandini urged FIFA to consider the majority of players and leagues which are not represented at the World Cup, and could have be required to stop playing midseason.

''What is going to happen to football in the world if we move the World Cup from its natural slot?'' he asked.

FIFA's executive committee awarded Qatar the 2022 hosting rights despite knowing that temperatures routinely rise above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) in summer.

Gandini defended the summer weather in Qatar, suggesting players in Brazil already overcame challenging conditions.

Humidity in the Amazonian city of Manaus was ''no worse than the one expected in Qatar at the same time of the year,'' the Italian official said.

Qatari organizers have pledged to combat heat by building air-cooled venues for matches and team practices.

The FIFA panel studied another potential change to the tournament calendar affecting European clubs.

The United States wants to host a centenary Copa America - the South American championship, which is played every four years - as a one-off event in June 2016. The tournament would add six CONCACAF nations to the 10 South American teams and overlap with the 2016 European Championship for two weeks.

FIFA must give special permission to add the centenary event to the international calendar. That would oblige European clubs to release players such as Lionel Messi and Neymar.

''It's not easy to say no the South American players,'' said ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also leads Bayern Munich.

The ECA will be consulted by UEFA before the European governing body makes a decision. FIFA could approve the Copa America event at its Sept. 25-26 executive committee meeting in Zurich.


AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in Manchester, England contributed to this report.

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