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October 3, 2013

FIFA meets to debate winter 2022 World Cup

ZURICH (AP) — FIFA opened a two-day board meeting Thursday that will discuss whether to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from the traditional summer dates.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has been pushing for a switch but will likely meet opposition from Europe and the United States. They want FIFA to consult widely before agreeing to a change from the usual June-July slot to avoid the extreme heat in the tiny desert nation.

Officials from Asian and African confederations also said Thursday they have not yet talked formally about Blatter's proposed switch.

"We haven't had that discussion in (Africa)," FIFA board member Hany Abo Rida of Egypt told The Associated Press. "We're waiting to hear the explanation from the FIFA executive."

Blatter has raised the possibility of starting the tournament in November, while UEFA President Michel Platini prefers January.

A FIFA-appointed task force to study the potential impact of a change could be a compromise solution when the board examines the issue Friday.

Blatter said in August he would be "very much surprised, more than surprised" if this board meeting did not reject the idea of playing the World Cup in the Qatari summer.

FIFA has said the 27-member executive committee will also consider the human rights of migrant workers involved in building stadiums, transport links and hotels in Qatar for the World Cup.

The Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation is trying to step up pressure on FIFA, reminding Blatter that his organization failed in a November 2011 pledge to press Qatari authorities to improve working conditions and legal protection for up to 1.2 million foreign workers in the tiny emirate.

The Asian Football Confederation is also waiting to start formal talks on its position regarding the 2022 World Cup, general secretary Alex Soosay said Thursday.

European soccer leaders have been consulted and given cautious support for a switch to winter, preferring January-February.

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