FIFA approves winter World Cup for Qatar in 2022, sets final for Dec. 18

FIFA's executive committee has decided that the 2022 World Cup final will be held on Dec. 18, world football's organizing body confirmed on Thursday.

The climax of the winter World Cup will take place a week before Christmas. The final, set for a Sunday, is also Qatar's National Day, a celebration of independence.

The 2022 World Cup is to be played in the winter to avoid the fierce heat of June and July, and it will be a shortened tournament over 28 days instead of the usual 32.

UEFA had pushed for the final to be as late as Dec. 23, but that option attracted opposition from FIFA members who feared it would cause problems for fans and players getting home in time for Christmas, as well as affecting club football's festive programme.

The Dec. 18 decision will allow traditional Boxing Day club matches to take place in England.

UEFA president Michel Platini said the decision was acceptable -- but warned that FIFA must now re-arrange the calendar to protect up to four international dates that might be affected.

"Dec. 18 is a good date for the final -- perhaps Dec. 23 would be too late if you are trying to get all the fans back on Dec. 24," Platini told Press Association Sport. "Dec. 18 is fine for UEFA -- we can accommodate any changes to the Champions League.

"But FIFA must now protect the international dates for the national associations -- there are four international matches that could be affected and those are the lifeblood for the national associations.

"FIFA must look at the international calendar and make sure those dates are protected for the national associations."

A FIFA task force last month 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.

May had been the preferred option for European leagues, but Sheikh Salman stressed at the time: "All parties have to compromise -- not just the Europeans."

Hassan Al Thawadi, the head of the Qatar 2022 World Cup organising committee, had said the country was ready to host the event "at any point in time."

FIFA's director of communications Walter De Gregorio said: "The ExCo decided today that the World Cup as proposed by the task force will be played in November-December, with the final on the 18th of December.

"Based on the proposal of the task force, we're going to try to play in 28 days. That's the decision in principle. Now we have to see with the international match calendar how this might be possible."

He added: "This is for us, an important step. Finally, we know the end of the tournament. It's a Sunday and, by the way, it's the national day in Qatar, so it fits perfectly. You have enough time to do your Christmas shopping."

Meanwhile, FIFA's executive committee in Zurich has chosen France to host the 2019 Women's World Cup over South Korea.