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FIFA agrees to set up Qatar World Cup task force
ZURICH (AP) - FIFA leaders agreed Friday to set up a working group to study switching the dates of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to avoid the extreme summer heat in the tiny desert country.
However, a final decision on which months the tournament could be played is unlikely before 2015, FIFA executive committee member Michel D’Hooghe told The Associated Press
“At the earliest in 2015,” D’Hooghe said after Friday’s executive committee meeting. “We will consult everyone in the football family. To have some concrete information, this will not be done in two days.”
D’Hooghe and fellow committee member Hany Abo Rida told the AP that the new commission will not report back to President Sepp Blatter’s board before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“We have two World Cups before Qatar where we also have concerns,” said D’Hooghe, who also chairs FIFA’s medical committee.
The lengthy consultation process will involve medical experts and FIFA’s broadcasting and sponsor partners, as well as the influential European soccer leagues and clubs that are worried about disruption to their season schedules.
D’Hooghe said it has not yet been decided who will head the working group.
The FIFA board also discussed Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers after reported deaths and human rights abuses connected with World Cup construction projects.
FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan told the AP that Blatter offered to visit Qatar and discuss the issue with the emir, who is a longstanding IOC colleague of the FIFA president.
“We received a letter from Qatar saying they will abide by international norms,” on labor rights, the prince said.
Prince Ali said he believed that the Qatari World Cup organizers _ who are not represented on FIFA’s ruling panel _ were treated fairly and respectfully in the meeting.
Friday’s agreement falls short of Blatter’s stated plan to flatly reject the principle of playing the Qatar World Cup in June-July. He has suggested starting the tournament in November.
Still, the momentum to move FIFA’s showcase event appears unstoppable because of the searing summer temperatures.
The executive committee includes 13 men who took part in the December 2010 vote which awarded the World Cup to Qatar.
The gas-rich emirate beat the United States 14-8 in the final vote despite warnings that the extreme temperatures in June and July posed a health risk to players and spectators.
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