BELFAST: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has indicated his favoured date for the 2022 World Cup Final is Sunday, December 18 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The head of the world football federation clarified his personal preference on arrival in Belfast for the annual meeting of the International Football Association Board this weekend.

His comment followed a recommendation from FIFA’s ‘calendar committee’ last Tuesday that the controversial 2022 World Cup finals should be staged, as expected, in winter in Qatar.

UEFA had stated a preference for a December 23 Final in Doha, apparently ignoring the travel problems for fans immediately before Christmas.

Blatter, not unusually, disagreed with the European federation which is supporting three candidates against him in the forthcoming FIFA presidential election.

He said he would propose to the FIFA executive committee on March 19 and 20 that December 18, 2022, should be the latest date considered for the Final. He added: “The World Cup will not go on until the 23rd, definitely not, we have to stop at the 18th. I am against going to the 23rd.”

FIFA has conceded that the finals in 2022 should last 28 days rather than the usual current 32. A December 18 final would mean an Opening Match on Friday or Saturday November 18 or 19.

December 18 would suit the hosts perfectly since it is Qatar’s National Day.

Allowing for all teams to ‘enjoy’ two weeks’ preparation the domestic leagues in Europe would have to shut down on Saturday and Sunday October 29 and 30.

UEFA would hope to squeeze in ties in the Champions League and Europa League on November 1-3.

The consolation for the English Premier League of a December 18 would mean that the traditional Christmas/New Year programme would be unaffected by the winter switch.

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