FIFA's secretary general has stated that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar "will not be in June or July".
Jerome Valcke, who has been given the task of looking at alternative dates due to the fierce heat of the summer in Qatar, says it is likely to be held sometime between November 15 and January 15.
Valcke told France Info (radio station): "It will not be in June or July."
He added: "Frankly I think it'll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.
"If you play between November 15 and the end of the year that's when the weather is at its most favourable."
Valcke suggested it will be "like a warm spring in Europe" with "an average temperature of 25 degrees, therefore it's perfect for football".
Valcke's statement however is likely to need ratification by FIFA's executive committee.
Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said he was "totally surprised" at the statement - and confirmed the decision had to be taken by the executive committee.
He told Press Association Sport: "I was totally surprised this morning when I heard what Jerome has said.
"As I understand it all the stakeholders will have discussions and report back to the executive committee of FIFA and no final decision will be made on when the 2022 World Cup would be played until December 2014 or March 2015.
"As far as I am concerned that remains the situation and there has been nothing said to me to make that any different."
Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said Valcke "may have been stating his personal opinion".
He also said there had been a general assumption that the 2022 World Cup could not be played in the summer due to the heat. That view has previously been expressed by UEFA's 54 member countries and FIFA president Sepp Blatter but no decision on alternative dates has been taken.
"There is an expectation but there has been no decision," said Boyce.
FIFA said in a statement that it was Valcke's own view but that no decision had been taken on the timing.
The statement said: "Secretary General Jerome Valcke explained today in the Radio France interview - as he had already mentioned previously - that in his view the 2022 FIFA World Cup must take place in winter and the best possible time frame would be 15 November to 15 January.
"However, the precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community (FIFA, confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players) as well as FIFA's commercial partners (commercial affiliates and media rights licensees).
"As the event will not be played until eight 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."