It’s time to change your Christmas plans for 2022! In a move that has been baffling sports fans around the globe, world soccer’s governing body of FIFA has decided to move the already controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar to a winter start with the final game now scheduled to be played just a week before Christmas on December 18th.
The World Cup has been a summer sport spectacle since its first incarnation in the 1930s. Moving the tournament to the winter not only breaks tradition, but throws in some kinks that will ripple into sport loving nations throughout the world.
For the hundreds of thousands of people who travel to World Cups every four years, or those who simply go cross country to enjoy larger viewing parties, this decision further complicates plans. The Qatar World Cup is already shrouded in controversy – from the well documented bribe scandal to the exorbitantly high death totals of immigrant workers. Adding in the monumental switch from summer to winter throws the entire soccer world even further off kilter. Since no one seems to be in favor of the switch, why make it? The winter start time was put in place to ease fears of playing in 120+ degree heat during the summer months which pose some serious risk, not only for players, but for the many tourists expected to visit the desert nation.
By ‘fixing’ the temperature issue, an all new can of worms has been opened by placing soccer’s biggest event in the middle of most European league’s season. What happens next is anyone’s guess. Will there be a two month break extending leagues well into summer, basically eliminating any form of summer break? Will teams not allow players to leave for international duty? We’ll see. No matter how one looks at it, we’ve only begun to see the headlines start to unfold, as far as Qatar is concerned.
Regardless, for the soccer nuts out there like myself who were already hoping to attend the Cup, at least we’ll have some reasonable temperatures to deal with. Let’s just hope the stadiums get built because, as Brazil recently found out, eight years is just around the corner and they have a long, long way to go.