ZURICH — The final match of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played on Dec. 18, the country's national holiday.

FIFA spokesman Walter De Gregorio confirmed the date Thursday, but did not say when the tournament would start.

The governing body's executive committee prefers a 28-day tournament — starting Nov. 21 — but did not make a decision in the opening session of its two-day meeting.

De Gregorio said the executive committee could confirm the kickoff date on Friday.

"It is a major step because finally we know and we can move forward," De Gregorio said in a hastily arranged statement at FIFA headquarters.

The November-December option was expected after being recommended by a FIFA-appointed task force which met last month in Doha, Qatar. The task force sought to take FIFA's lucrative event out of the Qatari summer heat in the June-July period when World Cups are traditionally played.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter then said he preferred a Sunday, Dec. 18, final. Every World Cup final since 1966 has been played on a Sunday.

By rejecting UEFA's preferred Dec. 23 final, a Friday, the FIFA executive committee helped protect the English Premier League's traditional Dec. 26 program.

A 28-day World Cup, four days fewer than usual, would cut the time clubs must release players to national teams.

European clubs and leagues, which must shut down for several weeks in the middle of their seasons, have been the strongest opponents of an end-of-year tournament.

Qatar bid to stage the tournament in June-July when it was chosen as host in December 2010.