Europe’s leading clubs are expected to accept the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will have to be played in the winter but only on the basis it is a “one-off”.
The European Clubs’ Association (ECA) will discuss the issue at a meeting in Geneva today, and the organisation’s senior vice-president, Umberto Gandini, has admitted moving the tournament from the summer is “almost inevitable”.
That will leave the Premier League’s opposition to any move looking increasingly isolated with even new FA chairman Greg Dyke favouring a switch despite the disruption.
Fifa will make a decision on moving the World Cup next month with president Sepp Blatter claiming it is “discrimination” to stipulate it can only be played in the summer. The ECA is likely to insist its support for a switch depends on it being a one-off.
Gandini said: “We have many individual opinions and league opinions, we do not have any ECA position yet as we will discuss this at the general assembly.
“Everything now is going to be moved by the Fifa executive committee decision in October. I have a personal opinion that it is almost inevitable.
“We will have to find a solution because it is very unlikely that you can play the World Cup in Qatar in the summer. Or maybe you can play it then but it will be impossible for fans to follow it so something will need to be addressed.
“Now it is a matter of studying the possible solutions and we will have to do it. I think it’s important it’s going to be a one-off and is not going to something that’s going to be there for ever.
“If we have to find a one-off solution I think we will be able within the football family to find it, but everybody has to be properly involved and we have to consider which is the best solution for football and the fans.”
Blatter has confirmed he will recommend to the FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich on October 3 and 4 that the dates are changed.
He said: “If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a Fifa World Cup can never be played in countries that are south of the equator or indeed near the equator.
“We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than we do in Europe.
“I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world any more, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in far away places.”
Blatter said the next steps would be to include a “close look” at the international calendar.
Senior FIFA sources say it would be more likely to play the tournament in November or December 2022 rather than January to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics.