The 2022 soccer World Cup will not be played in the summer months in Qatar, according to FIFA's general secretary, after months of speculation which arose after concerns about high temperatures in the country.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke ruled out the prospect of a summer tournament in an interview with French radio, echoing the views of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who said it would be impractical to hold the tournament in the country's scorching summer heat.
"The dates for the World Cup will not be June or July. To be honest, I think it will be held between November 15 and January 15 at the latest," Valcke told France Inter Radio on Wednesday.
"If you play between November 15 and, let's say, the end of December, it's the time when the weather is the most favorable. You play with a temperature equivalent to that of a rather hot spring in Europe, you play with a temperature of 25 degrees (Celsius), which is perfect to play football."
However FIFA insisted that a final decision on the date of the tournament will not be made before the upcoming World Cup in Brazil this year.
"The precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community as well as FIFA's commercial partners," FIFA said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
"As the event will not be played until 8 years' time the consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.
"Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil as agreed by the FIFA Executive Committee."
The decision to award the tournament to Qatar in December 2010 was highly criticized. Fears were initially raised that the summer heat in the emirate, which can reach over 38 degrees Celcius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), would be dangerous to players and fans.
Qatar's organizers have also been hit with a string of controversies relating to human rights abuses. In November, an Amnesty International report alleged that workers building World Cup infrastructure were "treated like cattle".
The decision to move the world's biggest soccer tournament to the winter months could have a knock-on effect on the leagues played around the world, particularly the English Premier League. Matches are played over the winter and would clash with Premier League fixtures.
Last year, Premier League boss Richard Scudamore expressed concern that moving the World Cup to winter would cause global "chaos" and disrupt several European soccer leagues.
—By CNBC's Arjun Kharpal: Follow him on Twitter @ArjunKharpal