Karl-Heinz Rummenigge the Chairman of FC Bayern, the reigning Bundesliga and European champion, has a radical idea for the sport. He wants the European soccer clubs to move to a summer calendar especially in light of the potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to winter. This suggestion will be music to the ears of many American soccer fans who have defended Major League Soccer’s summer schedule but will certainly turn heads across the European continent.
In an interview with France Football, Rummunigge said
“Everywhere, be it Germany, France or England, summer is the best period of the year, and that is the season we don’t play. In deepest winter, when it is very cold and snowing, we play nearly all the time in conditions that are disagreeable for both players and spectators. It is not logical.”
The Associated Press reports that FIFA said via email that the international calendar for 2018 to 2022 would have “to be completed by 2016 at the latest.” So the discussion of this potential change, especially as it pertains to the 2022 World Cup, will have to take place relatively soon.
In 2003, the League of Ireland moved from the traditional European calendar to a summer schedule, and saw an increase in attendance and fan interest. Major League Soccer has continued to see an increase in average attendance year over year (except 2013 when it declined slightly) while playing through the summer months where, in parts of the United States, the climate is incredibly hot.
Of course, a century or more of tradition is involved in the scheduling and timing of matches in the top European leagues. This may lead to many dismissing the idea out of hand. Nonetheless, with someone of Rummenigge’s stature and reputation in the game bringing this issue to the forefront, it will be a topic of discussion in the very near future.