A Winter World Cup?
Last week, Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, announced that he wants to move the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Qatar, from the summer to the winter, due to the country’s almost unbearable summer temperatures. At first thought, the idea seems good and sound, but it quickly becomes apparent that the proposal just will not work. Blatter would be interrupting the regular seasons of just about every major soccer league around the world. As a result, I believe that it will be nearly impossible for FIFA to pull off such a drastic move.
Here’s the problem with moving the World Cup to the winter: to allow all participating countries to play in the tournament at full strength, every league across the globe would need to cease their operations for about a month in the middle of their season. In the U.S., this does happen with the NHL. Every four years, the NHL takes a break midseason during the Winter Olympics to allow its premier players to go compete in the Games’ hockey tournament. However, there is a HUGE difference between these two sports. The latter only involves the shutdown of one league, while the former involves shutting down multiple leagues. Coordinating such a shutdown would be extremely difficult.
The one question a lot of people will ask is: Why does it matter? They will argue that this should not be big news because this Qatari World Cup won’t take place for another 9 years. The reality is that there has never been a World Cup held during the winter (only during the summer) so this would mark the first time that such a change would be occurring. If the league is committed, it will begin thinking about it plans now to allow any necessary changes to be made. The most notable of these potential “changes”, in my opinion, would be to move the 2022 World Cup to a different, more temperate location. Immediately after it was announced that Qatar was going to get to host the World Cup, there was international uproar, mainly focused on the fact that Qatar is by no stretch of the imagination an international soccer powerhouse. It was suspected that some amount of under-the-table dealing was done between FIFA and the Qatari government in to get the rights to host the tournament. Basically, there are people that assume that Qatar essentially “bought” the World Cup.
Because of this travesty, combined with the fact that Qatar is simply too hot during the summer to safely host games, FIFA should reconsider the summer plans and look into reassigning the 2022 World Cup to another location. If Blatter sees reason and decides to move the Cup from Qatar, he will be able to deflect unneeded stress and criticism from the World Cup process.