The Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has warned it would be "morally reprehensible" for Fifa to move the Qatar 2022 World Cup to winter without meaningful consultation with the rest of the game.
The pressure from the Premier League and other professional leagues, Fifa's broadcasting partners, and other stakeholders, looks set to result in a more emollient tone from the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, at the conclusion of a two-day meeting on Friday. Blatter is expected to announce that there is broad agreement that the 2022 World Cup cannot be played at the height of summer but that a lengthy consultation period will be required to find a way forward.
As a result, there may be no final decision on the dates of the 2022 tournament for nine months or more. Fifa's preferred option of November and December 2022 is seen as the most likely option but the Uefa president, Michel Platini, would prefer January and February so as not to clash with the group stages of the Champions League.
"I wouldn't object to taking a decision on moving it in principle – I think nearly everybody is agreed on that," said Northern Ireland's Jim Boyce, the British representative on the Fifa executive committee. "But I don't think we can make any decision on the exact timing – should it be in November, January or whenever – until we have got everyone in the game around the table to find a solution." Blatter is also expected to address the issue of workers' rights in Qatar after a Guardian investigation found that dozens of Nepalese workers employed on infrastructure projects have died in recent weeks alone.
While many of those who have opposed the switch to winter now privatley accept that the move is inevitable, there remains widespread annoyance at the way Fifa has been tackling the issue. Blatter is expected to announce tomorrow the formation of a new Fifa Qatar 2022 taskforce to co-ordinate the consultation exercise with all affected parties. The Bahraini Fifa executive committee member, Sheikh Salman al-Khalifa, is believed to be under consideration to lead it.
"The language seems to be: 'Qatar have won it. Right, now what? Where are we going to play it?' Fifa has absolute power and responsibility in one area of that. But it would be morally reprehensible if they were to start tinkering with the World Cup calendar as early as October of this year," said Scudamore.
"As though because they have the power to decide where the World Cup goes, they have the power to decide when it's played. Those are two very different things. The sporting calendar across the world is affected."
The association of European Professional Football Leagues, of which the Premier League is a part, has highlighted a range of potential issues with a winter switch that would affect the calendars for the 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. They include the impact on players' contracts, some broadcast deals and the knock-on effect on various other sports.
Fox and NBC subsidiary Telemundo, which paid $1bn for the broadcast rights to the World Cup in the US, are believed to remain exercised about the possible impact of a clash with the NFL season.
While Fifa has ruled out paying compensation to losing bidders, including Australia and the US, it is understood that the broadcasters believe they would be entitled to redress under their contracts.
A Fifa spokesman insisted there was "no doubt" the 2022 tournament would be played in Qatar, despite the ongoing investigation by Michael Garcia, the head of the investigatory arm of Fifa's ethics committee, into the election process. "What is open to question is if we play in winter – and if so, is it November, December, January? I don't know. But there is no doubt we will play in Qatar."
Hassan al-Thawadi, the head of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee, reiterated that they were ready to host the tournament in either winter or summer and insisted there was no basis for Fifa removing the tournament from them.
"The great thing for me is, I can safely say, we're continuing with our plans as it is, so whatever decision comes out will not change our plans and hence there's no time limit," he said.
The Uefa president, Michel Platini, a Fifa vice-president, voted for Qatar and has backed the idea of playing in winter, but said he was more concerned with dealing with the findings of the Guardian's investigation that uncovered appalling treatment of migrant workers.
"I'm much more concerned about that than the discussion about summer and winter," he said on arriving in Zurich.