ZURICH: As part of an ongoing consultation process, the task force set up by the FIFA Executive Committee to assess options for the international match calendar 2018-2024 met at the Home of FIFA in Zurich today, 3 November 2014.

The meeting was officially opened by FIFA President Blatter and chaired by AFC President and FIFA Executive Committee member Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

It followed on from the first meeting of the task force on 8 September 2014 when the participants – representatives of the football community at confederation, member association, league and club level as well as by representatives of FIFPro, the ECA, the EPFL and the CEO of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ Local Organising Committee, Hassan Al Thawadi – received information on the initial work undertaken to analyse options for the international match calendar 2018-2024. In particular, the proposals of January/February 2022 or November/December 2022 were put forward during that meeting as alternatives to June/July 2022 for the FIFA World Cup™ in Qatar.

Today, representatives were given the platform to provide detailed reports on how these proposed dates might impact their relevant competitions, activities and/or stakeholders. Additionally, presentations suggesting April/May 2022 and May/June 2022 as alternative periods for the FIFA World Cup™ were given by the ECA and the EPFL respectively.

Professor Jiří Dvořák, FIFA Chief Medical Officer, provided a report on the medical concerns related to player safety and fan safety if the FIFA World Cup™ were to be held between May and September. FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke also highlighted the fact that the month-long period of Ramadan would begin on 2 April in 2022, which would have an impact on a number of players in their preparations for any April/May option and with regard to the preparation of the event itself.

Meanwhile, Hassan Al Thawadi outlined that, for the Middle East, the ideal situation and circumstances for an all-inclusive World Cup would be for it to be held in the winter, but reiterated that the Local Organising Committee remained fully committed to delivering what was promised in its bid and organising the best possible event whatever is decided.

“The objective of today’s meeting was to receive feedback from all parties and to work on narrowing the options,” said Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

“We are pleased with the level of detail provided by the participants and with the productive discussions that took place today. We now have a greater understanding of where each of the stakeholders is coming from and we will carefully consider these opinions as we move forward towards defining the international match calendar.”

Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, together with FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke and the FIFA administration, will now go away and assess the discussions and reports before the next meeting of the task force.

“We are getting closer to narrowing the dates for the FIFA World Cup to two options – January/February 2022 or November/December 2022 – but FIFA has also been asked to consider May 2022,” said Jérôme Valcke. “We will summarise what we’ve heard today and provide feedback to all parties in order for them to prepare for the next meeting as we progress towards a final decision.”

Further consultations are expected, with the task force due to hold its next meeting in early 2015.