LONDON -- English and Spanish cup competitions could be completed in June 2022, after a World Cup in Qatar, under proposals being presented to FIFA next week by leading European clubs.
The European Club Association is proposing an April-May timeframe for the World Cup, arguing it would be less disruptive to the season than FIFA president Sepp Blatter's favoured November-December solution for avoiding playing in the fiercest summer heat in Qatar.
The ECA outline for an April 28-May 29 tournament envisages European clubs which usually start their seasons in August pushing that date forward by up to two weeks in 2021. The 214-club organisation then found space for only 48 domestic league and cup fixtures before a suggested April 18 player-release cutoff for the World Cup.
Teams in the English, Spanish, French and Italian top-flight competitions play 38 league games, leaving only 10 slots to fulfil domestic cup obligations. For English Premier League teams, there are up to seven games in the League Cup and up to six rounds of the FA Cup.
So international players could have to return to their clubs immediately after a gruelling World Cup campaign for further competitive matches before a summer break.
"In countries with a significant amount of domestic fixtures, the domestic cup could be played following the World Cup in a compact 'cup-only' period in June," the ECA proposal outlines ahead of Mondays' FIFA Qatar 2022 Task Force meeting.
The ECA proposes condensing the Champions League format to play the round of 16 over two weeks rather than a month, and removing the international double-headers in March. But that could leave up to five months between international competition and the World Cup for nations which qualify.
That proposal also would leave only 10 days between clubs being obliged to release players on April 18 and the World Cup kicking off for teams to squeeze in rest, training and a warm-up game. Before this year's tournament in Brazil, some teams played three friendlies in the final weeks of preparation.
Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup hosting rights in a 2010 vote on the basis of a traditional June-July tournament in air-cooled stadiums. But Blatter has said it is "not rational" to play in Qatar in the summer when temperatures rise above 40 Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Looking at a decade of statistics, the ECA said the hottest temperature in Qatar in April and May is 33.8 C (93 F). That would be "less extreme," according to the ECA, than the heat at Mexico in 1986, the United States in 1994 and Brazil this year.
Although Blatter has said a November 2022 kickoff will work, ECA Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge maintains his April-May proposal is the "best option."
"It takes into account the climate issue while preserving the traditional running of a club football season," Rummenigge said. "The impact on national team fixtures and UEFA Club Competitions remains limited and the proposal has no impact at all on the (likely February 2022) Winter Olympics or the confederations' tournaments in 2023.
"This proposal needs to be seriously considered by all stakeholders: it is an achievable solution."
But Europe is divided over the Qatar dates. The European Professional Football Leagues said last week that the event should not move from June-July, warning of damage to domestic competitions from a scheduling shift.