(WFI) UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino says January 2023 is still an option for the Qatar World Cup.

Speaking at the Dubai International Sports Conference on Monday, the Italian insisted that the time slot would cause the least disruption to Europe’s domestic leagues.

“FIFA have made it clear that, if it is January, it can only be January 2022,” he was quoted by The National newspaper.

“But, if January 2023 would be less disruptive, I don’t see a big difference between playing in December 2022 or January 2023. FIFA says legally it is impossible, but where there is a will there is a way.

“If the problems are simply legal, I think there are enough lawyers who could solve that. Legal issues will never be a problem.”

Umberto Gandini, deputy chairman of the European Club Association, disagreed.

He spoke about the ECA’s joint proposal with the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), which emerged earlier in December, to host the Qatar competition between May 5 and June 4.

The two bodies say the proposal “provides acceptable climatic conditions with regard to both players and fans”, while the May date would be “less intrusive”, avoiding major disruption to the international calendar, European leagues and UEFA’s Champions League in the busy winter months. But FIFA’s medical chief has warned on several occasions that the Gulf nation’s sizzling summer temperatures between May and September represents a risk to players and fans.

“The year, though, is 100 per cent 2022,” Gandini told delegates, according to the Dubai newspaper. “FIFA have made it very clear: there is no chance for January or February 2023. This is not possible for contractual reasons. It has to be 2022.”

Both men are part of FIFA’s Qatar 2022 task force which has spent more than a year exploring alternate dates for the football showpiece.

November-December is favoured by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has promised IOC president Thomas Bach that the Qatar World Cup will not clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics scheduled for January or February.

The task force is expected to set the date for the Qatar World Cup at its final meeting in Doha on Feb. 23, with the FIFA ExCo due to approve the schedule at its meeting in Zurich on March 19-20.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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