Qatar 2022 World Cup looks set to start in November with the final on December 23
The FIFA task force responsible for picking the dates of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar proposed that the tournament should run from November 26 to December 23. The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has been dogged by controversy ever since FIFA’s ExCo made that decision in December 2010. The have been allegations of widespread collusion and corruption overshadowing the process from the beginning. Multiple ExCo members from 2010 have since left surrounded by allegations of corruption and a report by investigator Michael Garcia remains secret, unpublished and subject to dispute between its author and FIFA.
The World Cup, was never intended, to be played any time other than summer 2022, yet Qatar remains on course to stage the tournament in winter. The task force was convened after it became apparent that dangerous summer temperatures in Qatar in summer 2022 would make it unsafe for both the players and fans alike. Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, who is the head of the Asian Football Confederation and head of the task force confirmed on Tuesday that November-December 2022 has now been recommended as the ideal time for the event. “Some people have concerns, but whatever decision you’re going to take will have some questions about it,” Sheikh Salman said. “We need to look at the overall benefit of everybody.”
The tournament will be shorter than usual by a few days but will remain the same size as currently, with 32 nations playing 64 matches. The decision is sure to cause a huge furore, not least as the major leagues of Europe, who provide the majority of players to any World Cup finals, voiced their opposition to a schedule that will smash a hole in the middle of their domestic calendar for the 2022-23 season, and disrupt seasons either side. Once such voice is the likes of Premier League chief Richard Scudamore who on Monday expressed his anger at the decision: “Yeah, very disappointed that is the word, I think, on behalf of the all the European leagues and particularly the European clubs who provide most of the players for this World Cup.” The Premier League remain opposed to a winter World Cup with a spokesman saying: “The 2022 World Cup was bid for and awarded to Qatar as a summer tournament. The prospect of a winter World Cup is neither workable nor desirable for European domestic football.”
FIFA removed arguably the biggest stumbling block to a winter tournament earlier this month with a shock announcement that FOX TV in America had been awarded the US rights to the 2026 World Cup without any tender or bidding process. FOX and their Spanish-language partner channel had bought the 2018 and 2022 rights for $1billion combined on the basis of those events being summer tournaments and had been threatening legal action if the dates were swapped. In a secret deal that everyone assumes, without denials from any party, is linked to 2022 being moved to winter, FOX suddenly found itself in possession of the rights to 2026. Like much of what FIFA has done over the years, that decision is wrapped in secrecy, and stinks. A top football prediction would suggest that until Blatter remains as president, money and corruption will rule the decision making process and not the interest of the game itself or the billions of fans around the world!