Two of the more controversial things in the soccer world combined yesterday for an early Christmas present to both soccer bloggers and Don Garber.
In an interview with Arsenal Magazine (and reported on The Telegraph website), Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger complained about fixture back-up due to inclement weather and how it impacts his squad (and other clubs too of course). For those who don’t follow EPL, a number of matches were canceled last weekend due to snow and a bunch more may be canceled on the popular Boxing Day weekend. While most EPL pitches are heated, many of the matches are canceled over concerns for fan safety.
The EPL has built-in cancellation dates for these matches, but Wenger is concerned that clubs (like Arsenal) who play in multiple tournaments will face a backlog of matches later in the season, putting title-competing clubs at a disadvantage to teams who only compete in one league or competition. In response to a question about a possible winter World Cup in 2022, he not only said it would not be a bad idea, but the world soccer calendar should change because of it:
“That [the heat in Qatar] is a big problem. They have spoken about maybe having the World Cup in the winter. Why not? I’m not against that at all. But I think overall, in the whole world, football should be played between February and November, and then you could organise (sic) it for winter.”
Now the Wenger schedule would be different than the current MLS schedule – matches would begin in February and players would have a long summer break to recuperate from fixture congestion. But it is not a coincidence that this was the lead story on the MLS website this morning. I suspect that MLS officials will continue to highlight this kind of support for a spring-to-fall schedule as the possibility of a January 2022 World Cup is considered, and Wenger will not be the only major figure to suggest a schedule change.
Does Arsene Wenger’s support for a February-to-November schedule change your opinion on spring-to-fall scheduling?