FIFA confirms 2022 World Cup to start on Nov. 21, be played over 28 days

ZURICH -- The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will start on Monday, Nov. 21, kicking off a 28-day tournament that will finish on Sunday, Dec. 18.

FIFA's executive committee confirmed the 2022 dates on Friday, six months after picking Dec. 18 -- Qatar's national holiday -- for the final.

In March, FIFA finally decided to switch the 2022 tournament from June-July to avoid Qatar's summer heat.

A 28-day World Cup is four fewer than usual and is designed to cause less disruption to clubs and leagues that must shut down for several peak midseason weeks.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was set to hold a news conference at the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich on Friday, but that conference was canceled.

FIFA had delayed choosing a kickoff date in Qatar while it held talks on the 2019-2024 schedule of international fixtures.

The calendar approved on Friday means clubs must release players to the 32 World Cup teams by Monday, Nov. 14, 2022 -- one week before the opening match.

No international match dates -- either qualifiers for continental championships or friendlies -- have been set for October 2022. Instead, the two fixtures typically scheduled in October will be moved forward four months.

That creates a four-match program for international teams, scheduled between May 30 and June 14, 2022, at the end of the European season.

In a minor switch, the September doubleheader of international matches will be pushed back two weeks to start on Sept. 20, 2022.

FIFA had earlier approved the date change to winter avoid the fierce heat of June and July, along with the shortened tournament over 28 days instead of the usual 32. The measure had been pending executive committee approval.

A FIFA task force earlier this year had recommended that the 2022 tournament should take place in November and December.

The task force, led by Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, ruled out the possibility of playing the tournament in May and said a clash with the Winter Olympics, held in January, would be undesirable.