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UEFA wants latest possible World Cup final in Qatar to protect dates for its own qualifiers

02/25/2015 10:39 EST | Updated 04/27/2015 05:59 EDT
NYON, Switzerland - UEFA supports playing the 2022 World Cup final on Dec. 23 to help protect international qualifying matches in its own competitions.

Earlier Wednesday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke revealed UEFA made the final date proposal which has angered British football officials, who feel it threatens their traditional Christmas holiday program.

UEFA confirmed its preference for Friday, Dec. 23, because a final several days earlier in Qatar "would have more impact on European qualifiers."

FIFA's move toward a November-December 2022 tournament to avoid Qatar's summer heat will force top-level European football to stop in early or mid-November.

That cuts UEFA's options for the first half of the season. It needs to schedule three doubleheader weeks for national team matches, plus six midweeks for Champions League group matches.

Last year, UEFA launched the Nations League to replace most friendlies in even-numbered years.

Group matches are planned from September to November, including likely in 2022. The standings will decide which teams advance more than a year later to qualifying playoffs for major tournaments.

UEFA showed its commitment to the new competition by taking central control of its commercial rights.

Still, UEFA's suggestion has upset the English Premier League, whose chief executive Richard Scudamore was part of the FIFA working group which met on Tuesday in Doha to recommend playing in Qatar's winter.

"Our particular concern is that a World Cup that finishes late in December could result in damaging one of the English game's great traditions and attractions, with the removal of the entire Premier League, Football League and FA Cup Christmas and New Year fixture program that season," Scudamore said in a statement.

A Friday final would break with World Cup tradition since 1970 of playing it on Sunday. A Sunday, Dec. 18 final in 2022 would be more favourable to the British, and also fall on Qatar's national day celebrations.

UEFA also notes that Friday is suitable for the final because it is "a weekend (day) in Qatar."

The 2022 World Cup dates will be approved by the FIFA executive committee next month.

FIFA wants a shorter 28-day tournament — removing some rest days from the current 32-day schedule — within the Nov. 19-Dec. 23 period.

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