When Sepp Blatter, FIFA President, announced that the host country of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be Qatar, the footballing industry was in shock. A World Cup, in Qatar, midsummer with temperatures exceeding 40C!?
However, news broke this week that a FIFA taskforce has recommended the 2022 FIFA World Cup be played November-December to avoid the soaring heat in the Gulf state. Controversially this means that the World Cup Final could in fact be played on December 23rd, just two days before Christmas Day. Teams such as England, who’s players play throughout the festive season in the English Premier League, would potentially have the Christmas period off.
Key football officials met in Doha recently to discuss different options for the Qatar 2022 World Cup that would ensure the health and wellbeing of all players taking part. The decision of the recommendation put forward is expected to be made in Zurich on the 19th and 20th March by FIFA Executives.
The November-December period is just an option for the FIFA Executives with Qatar weather in November soaring above 25C. Arguably the heat of 25C, let alone the humidity that comes with that is still a huge climate change for players across the world who are not used to playing in those conditions. Other options were January-February, however this would clash with the Winter Olympics, April, yet this would clash with Ramadan, and May-September where temperatures soar above 40C. As a result, FIFA said after much consideration they felt November-December would be the best option.
As expected, the Football Association, The Premier League and other European domestic leagues have today announced their disappointment about the decision by FIFA to possibly move the tournament. With the English Premier League running throughout the proposed months, as well as the Champions League, it would ultimately mean a change in schedule and process to each of these. FA Chairman Greg Dyke expressed the concerns of many and said he would do all he could to protect the traditional festive period for club matches, however agreed that it was perhaps the only option available.
On the other hand, many of Europe’s top leagues wanted an April-May schedule in order to not disrupt key European football competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League. In spite of this, UEFA, which is one of FIFA’s six confederations, said it supported the recommendation made by the task force for the World Cup to be played in late November to late December 2022. FIFA can now expect requests for compensation of the damage if the final decision should cause the clubs to take out players midseason.
I can’t help but wonder why Qatar was awarded the event knowing the issues that would be cause by the extreme climate. Arguments are ongoing as to why Australia was not given the event, fuelling the ongoing corruption debate. Was the intense summer heat of Qatar seriously not considered by those voting? The whole football calendar needs to be rescheduled and dramatically impacted upon to fit around a Qatar event, and the result is likely to be uproar.
Whatever the decision made on the 20th March in Zurich, for now we know that the World Cup will take place at some point in 2022…. we think.
The views expressed here are those of the individual and not of Pitch.