By Brian Homewood
ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA has launched a consultation process to decide whether to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar away from the traditional June-July slot and will not make a decision until mid-2014 at the earliest, president Sepp Blatter said on Friday.
Blatter added that FIFA "would not turn a blind eye" to allegations of labor abuses in Qatar following reports that dozens of Nepali workers had died on building sites in the country over the summer.
Qatar was awarded the right to host the competition in December 2010 in a decision based on its plans to stage the event in June-July using air-conditioned stadiums to combat the fierce heat.
Despite Qatar's assurances that the plan is viable, there has been widespread concern over the health of the players and visiting fans in the searing conditions of the desert summer.
Blatter said there was no question of staging the tournament elsewhere. "The 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar. There you are," he said in opening a news conference.
"The decision of the executive committee taken in December 2010 is still there and there is no reason to call into question this decision, even though we only had 22 members who voted," he said.
Blatter said all stakeholders would be involved in the consultation. "The stakeholders include the players, the clubs, the leagues, the national federations, the confederations and FIFA, but it doesn't only include sports," he said.
"There are other partners, economic ones, be they from marketing, the media or television.
"We also need to bear in mind our obligations towards these partners, so we need to carry out very deep consultation and pay a great detail of attention and show some diplomacy and wisdom."
No decision would be taken until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which finishes in July.
Blatter admitted some responsibility for the confusion over when the competition would be staged.
"We could have made this declaration that it is too hot earlier, I accept my responsibility that I could have said that earlier before but we first have to deliver other competitions," he said.
He said labor rights were not FIFA's responsibility but they could not ignore any problems.
"Throughout the world this is not FIFA's remit, we cannot assume responsibility for the security of building sites in the world, but we're not indifferent. We can't say it doesn't concern us," he said.
"I express all my sympathy and regret for anything that happens in any country where there are deaths on construction sites, especially when they are related to a World Cup," he said.
Britain's Guardian newspaper reported last week that dozens of Nepali workers had died on building sites in Qatar over the summer while the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said 4,000 lives would be at risk before the tournament started.
"We should also say that workers' rights are the responsibility for Qatar and the (construction) companies, there are many European companies working there and these are also responsible for the conditions of workers; it's not FIFA's responsibility but we can't turn a blind eye," Blatter said.
"This intervention can only be carried out by Qatar itself and they have confirmed they will do so."
Blatter said in July that he would propose a move to a cooler time of year and that he expected the executive committee to agree with him.
European soccer's governing body UEFA agreed last month that the World Cup should be moved, with all 54 member associations backing the proposal.
The European Clubs Association (ECA) which has more than 200 members including the world's richest and most powerful clubs, led the calls for widespread consultation.
ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in September that, with the competition still nine years away, there was no need to rush into a decision.
Clubs are worried about the financial impact of hosting the World Cup outside its traditional June-July slot, as it would force them to reschedule domestic leagues.
Rummenigge has suggested that April 2022 would be an alternative while January-February and November-December are also possibilities, although the first two months of the year will also see the Winter Olympics taking place.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)