FIFA kicks off talks next week on finding winter dates for 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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ZURICH — FIFA will step up the search for new dates to play the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at talks with football officials next Monday.

Consultation was promised last year after FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted the tournament cannot be played in the summer desert heat.

FIFA said Monday the six continental confederations plus clubs, leagues and players' unions from around the world will be represented at its Zurich headquarters on Sept. 8. The meeting will be led by Asian Football Confederation President Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain.

A second session is scheduled for November, FIFA said.

Blatter has suggested his executive committee should make a decision next March.

Blatter and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke have repeatedly said in interviews that only a November 2022 kickoff will work.

Qatar was awarded hosting rights in a December 2010 vote of FIFA's ruling board. The local organizing committee has stood by a bid promise of hosting a traditional June-July tournament in air-cooled stadiums.

FIFA shifted its position last year after previously stating that any change must be requested by Qatari organizers. Blatter said it was "not rational" to play in summer when temperatures in Qatar rise above 40 degrees C (104 degrees F).

Last October, Blatter's board called for consultation to follow the World Cup in Brazil.

Qatari officials have said they can change their hosting plan "if the international football community reaches a consensus."

Europeans leagues and clubs are the biggest critics of a tournament played in their winter. Top club competitions face a two-month stoppage, and knock-on effect of changing calendars over three seasons from 2021 to 2024.

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