A winter World Cup in 2022 has moved a step closer after the head of Fifa, football’s governing body, said that Qatar’s harsh summer would make holding the tournament in June a safety risk to both players and supporters.  

Speaking on German television, Sepp Blatter stated the World Cup “must be a festival of the people. But for it to be such a festival, you can’t play football in the summer”.

Concerns over playing and watching football in temperatures of up to 50 degree Celsuis is making it more likely that the date would be changed to play the tournament in the gentler climate of Qatar’s winter months.

However, such a schedule change is likely to be met with resistance from Europe’s major football leagues as it would cause major disruption to their domestic season, as well as to established European competitions such as the Uefa Champions League.

It is unclear as to whether a compromise could be agreed between Fifa, Qatar and the European leagues that would involve compensation payments being made or a truncated season that would finish six weeks later than usual.