DUBROVNIK, Croatia (AP) — Europe's 54 soccer nations are prepared to support moving the 2022 Qatar World Cup from the summer heat to playing in January.
European soccer leaders told The Associated Press they gave UEFA President Michel Platini a mandate on Wednesday for change, which FIFA President Sepp Blatter suggested his ruling board should agree to in principle next month.
Estonia Football Association President Aivar Pohlak said UEFA had "quite clear" support for the switch in Qatar, where summer temperatures can reach 120 degrees.
"As an exception and that is it," Pohlak said. "As a one-time problem, it can be handled."
Platini will announce UEFA's position after meetings with his strategy council and executive committee end Friday. The strategy panel includes representatives of Europe's top leagues, which have been the fiercest critics of altering the traditional August-to-May soccer season.
A World Cup in January 2022 would have less impact on European countries, including Germany, which take midseason breaks during that time of the year. It would have little effect on Scandinavian and Baltic countries, where leagues play March-November.
Blatter has suggested a November kickoff to avoid a clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics, but it would bump up on half of the current group stage matches in UEFA's popular and lucrative Champions League.
"I don't see the logic of November-December," Pohlak said. "From my personal point of view, I see only that it is possible to play in January."
Nearly three years after Qatar was awarded 2022 hosting rights by the much-criticized FIFA board — several of whom have since left soccer while facing corruption allegations — it appears there's momentum for changing the World Cup plan.
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