It’s hardly surprising but the 2022 World Cup is now more than likely to be played in winter. In all honesty, to even give Qatar the responsibility of hosting the tournament was controversial enough. Then again, what should we expect from arguably football’s most controversial character Sepp Blatter and his regime?
Whilst his vision of taking the world’s biggest sporting event to all corners of the globe isn’t the strangest idea that has ever emanated from his brain, he’s going to have to accept that in some cases this simply won’t be possible. Whilst it would be good for the game to spread its wings and venture where it has never ventured before, Qatar isn’t the ideal destination.
Quite simply, the fact that we’re even talking about changing when the tournament will be played says it all. Whilst it’s fair to say that the host nation can’t literally change its climate to make it suitable for playing football, what Fifa can do is ensure that the World Cup goes to a suitable climate. By giving it to Qatar, they didn’t do that.
I’m not suggesting that Qatar doesn’t deserve to or is unworthy of hosting a World Cup, many have questioned the country’s footballing pedigree but that won’t ultimately prevent them from putting on a good show. However when you’re having to alter it to be played in winter so that temperatures aren’t so high that they become dangerous to play in, question marks have to be raised. This will be a factor as to whether or not Qatar puts on a good show.
Then again, this problem should’ve been foreseen. The World Cup is a summer tournament so that every league worldwide (or at least as many as possible) have reached the end of their respective seasons. Therefore to not play the tournament in the summer creates a real problem. A World Cup played at any other time of the year (particularly in winter) will inevitably disrupt domestic football.
It’s been suggested that, in this country, the season would begin in July and end in June and FA Cup replays would be scrapped simply to cater for a tournament lasting for one month which is being played thousands of miles away. Is it really worth all this trouble? In modern day football, where club rules over country in the minds of many football fans, to see the fixture lists dramatically changed would not be welcomed.
Even though Fifa’s final decision is still pending, Blatter and Co have backed themselves into a corner on this one. The outcome of a winter tournament looks almost inevitable and I doubt that even Fifa would’ve wanted this to happen. Let’s hope for the game’s sake that the Qatar World Cup, whenever it’s played, is an absolute feast of football and provides unparalleled levels of excitement. Otherwise, this could be a massive own goal for football in general.