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Qatar 2022 World Cup scheduled for winter, FIFA announces

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FIFA announced the 2022 World Cup hosted in Qatar will be held in the winter months, so as to avoid blistering summer temperatures in the desert nation, reported The New Arab (UK).

The announcement was tweeted by the @WorldCupHQ account, receiving hundreds of likes and retweets. It said the tournament will be held between 21 November and 18 December 2022.

Many users criticised the announcement, which breaks with FIFA's history of holding tournaments in the summer.

But it was widely expected from the outset that FIFA would shift the tournament to the winter, where temperatures are milder and hover in the late 20s and early 30s centigrade.

Summer temperatures in Qatar can exceed 50 degrees centigrade.

FIFA's decision to grant Qatar the 2022 hosting rights has to date attracted considerable controversy.

Rights groups say there could be 4,000 deaths by the time Qatar completes building its final stadiums for the tournament. In 2015, a controversial Washington Post report cited at least 1,200 migrant deaths until that point.

Amnesty International has said the 2022 tournament is being "built on human rights abuses".

Qatar has responded to criticism and said progress was being made to improve the rights of migrant workers, including a number of labour reforms.

Doha recently pledged to improve human rights for foreigners, by introducing a $200 per month minimum wage, as well as allowing workers freedom to leave the country and change jobs without their employer's permission.

The Gulf diplomatic crisis - which broke out in June 2017 after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with regional power Egypt, cut off diplomatic ties to Qatar - has raised further uncertainty about the tournament.

FIFA is currently studying the feasability of moving ahead of schedule and expanding the tournament from 32 to 48 teams for the 2022 tournament.

Qatar's infrastructure, which is already stretched by the requirements of staging the Middle East's first World Cup, will be exacerbated if expanding the tournament gets a green light for 2022.

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