Blatter wants 2022 World Cup final no later than Dec. 18
HOLYWOOD, Northern Ireland (AP) FIFA president Sepp Blatter wants the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar to take place no later than Dec. 18, a date that would avoid a conflict with the powerful Premier League over the Christmas schedule in England.
A FIFA task force this week recommended moving the tournament to November-December to avoid the summer heat in Qatar. At that time, a Dec. 23 final - a Friday - was proposed. Dec. 18 is a Sunday, the day on which the final is traditionally played, and is Qatar's national day.
The dates of the 2022 tournament will be confirmed in March by the FIFA executive committee, which Blatter heads.
''The 23rd, definitely not (for the final). We have to stop at the 18th,'' Blatter said Friday while discussing the proposal for the first time.
The Premier League, which always plays a full set of games on Dec. 26, wants the World Cup to remain in its traditional June-July slot. Chief executive Richard Scudamore said earlier this week that a November-December tournament ''disproportionately impacts the sporting integrity of our competitions.''
FIFA has the backing of UEFA and other continental federations for the switch in dates despite what the Premier League wants.
''They are not so very happy and it's so good now to make a little bit of noise about FIFA and about the World Cup in Qatar,'' Blatter said in Northern Ireland ahead of a meeting of football's rulemakers. ''There are more than six years - particularly seven years - to prepare. And there is a goodwill.
''There will be a solution and I'm sure everybody will be fine,'' Blatter said. ''No doubt, the FIFA ExCo will make the decision that we will play November-December.''
English Football Association vice chairman David Gill said the game should be willing compromise rather than arguing over a Qatar decision that now seems final.
''Some of these other leagues that have breaks in January have a bigger problem than the Premier League does, in fairness,'' Gill said.
''There will still be 380 games in the Premier League.''
But there might be fewer games for national teams and cuts to domestic cup competitions as a result, but Gill believes a Dec. 18 World Cup final would allow the Premier League to resume in time for the traditional Dec. 26 Boxing Day program.
''There will have to be compromise on all fronts,'' said Gill, who sits on the UEFA executive committee and is seeking a place on FIFA's top panel. ''So, friendlies given up, there may be some FA Cup replays, League Cup semifinal being one legged.
''Everyone's going to have to do it. It's like any negotiation. If one person thinks they've won hands down then the other person's going to be upset.''
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris