The executive committee of Fifa, soccer's world governing body, will meet in October to discuss playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the northern hemisphere winter, rather than the traditional months of June and July.
There have been calls for the tournament to be switched to the winter in order to avoid the hot summer temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius in the Middle East state ever since Qatar was awarded hosting rights to the World Cup in December 2010, but this is the first time that a definitive decision appears close.
Fifa has previously stressed that any such proposal would have to be made by the Qatar organisers themselves, but president Sepp Blatter told a sports, media and economy conference in Austria yesterday that the 2022 World Cup could not take place in the summer, arguing that "you can cool down the stadiums, but you can't cool down the whole country."
Fifa said today: "As mentioned by the Fifa president yesterday, he will bring forward the matter of playing the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar in winter to the Fifa executive committee on the occasion of their next meeting scheduled for October 3 and 4, 2013.
"This matter will now be with the executive committee and we can therefore not comment further before the meeting has taken place."
Michel Platini, president of Uefa, Fifa's European counterpart, has been a vocal proponent of a winter World Cup, despite the impact that it would have on domestic leagues around Europe, with the Qatar tournament threatening to disrupt schedules for three seasons.
The Qatar bid was based on a summer World Cup and envisaged matches at new and redeveloped stadia fitted with cooling technology to ensure temperate conditions for players and fans.
It has been suggested that the unsuccessful candidates to host the 2022 World Cup – Australia, Japan, South Korea and USA – could consider legal action if the tournament is moved to a different time of year from that specified during the bidding process.