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A Winter World Cup in 2022?


Just as the outrage of the U.S. losing the World Cup to Qatar seems to be settling down, Sepp Blatter and FIFA decided to open the controversy back up again.  In an interview with journalists in Qatar during a visit to the Club World Cup, the FIFA president said that the organization was considering holding the 2022 World Cup during the winter, in response to concerns about the heat during matches.  “FIFA’s job is to have a World Cup that protects the players so we take note of the recommendations and go through the list of requirements,” he said.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke also addressed the issue, pointing out that holding the World Cup in the winter could help FIFA award the event to countries that previously would be unable to host.  Says Valcke: “Why not? It means you open the World Cup to countries where they can never play it in June and July because it’s never the right period of time… it would be a solution to open the organization of the World Cup to a number of countries in this period which is winter in Europe but not winter in the rest of the world.”

So we aren’t going to get the air conditioned stadiums anymore?!?!?

Maybe, but the decision hasn’t been made yet, according to Blatter.  FIFA executive committee member Franz Beckenbauer first raised the idea after the 2022 voting, and the idea was seconded by UEFA President Michel Plantini.  Qatar has not yet requested the change in season but with the 2022 World Cup twelve years away, there is time to do so.

So if the World Cup were to be moved to January 2022, who would be the biggest winner?  MLS

Assuming all major soccer leagues keep their schedules in the next twelve years, Europe and fall-to-spring leagues will have to make major adjustments to their 2021-2023 schedules to accommodate a major international tournament.  You can imagine the angst that will cause the leagues, who will have to shift their schedules for months to accommodate their players’ international obligations.

However, MLS has the type of schedule that is perfect for a winter World Cup.  As the event is ending, training camps are getting into full swing and national team players (for the U.S. and other countries) can easily integrate themselves into their clubs without missing huge chunks of games, like they do now during the World Cup.  There wouldn’t be that awkward period of time where MLS games are overshadowed by televised World Cup games.  And if the U.S. national team makes serious progress, the positive vibe and support for the national team could translate into MLS support (although that was not necessarily the case this year).

So as an MLS fan, I fully support the 2022 Winter World Cup!  Do you?

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  1. Kasey in Oz

    December 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Hang on, It gets how hot in Qatar in summer?? Who would be stupid enough to play 64 games in those temperatures?? Oh you what..??? Wait, is it too late for a mulligan? – der kaiser?

  2. Dave C

    December 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I wouldn’t like the WC in Winter for two main reasons: (a) the disruption it would cause to most domestic and continental competitions and (b) the fact that it looks like an acknowledgment that FIFA awarded the WC to Qatar without really thinking the whole thing through.

    However, it could actually have some beneficial effects. If the WC is held in Jan/Feb instead of Summer, does that mean there is a greater chance that all the players will be fit and available? (i.e. up to that point, they will only have played half a season of competetive football in which they are at risk of injuries, whereas in the summer they’ve played a full season = greater risk of injury).

  3. andrew

    December 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Should FIFA be considering another Winter event called the Olympics? I usually travel to both. I couldn’t possibly do both in the same month.

  4. Joe

    December 16, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    “In an interview with journalists during a visit to the Club World Cup in Qatar…”

    The Club World Cup is in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This could have been verified by checking ANY website about the event, or, you know, actually watching it.

    But ignorance is bliss, right?

    • Robert Hay

      December 16, 2010 at 7:32 pm

      Duly noted, and the sentence structure is changed above to make the meaning more clear.

      • Joe

        December 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

        In response to the actual content of the article, I do think FIFA is doing themselves no favors by suddenly suggesting all these changes (let’s play games in other middle eastern countries! let’s move the tournament to winter!). I think they’re trying to answer the naysayers’ concerns, but what they’re actually doing is making it look like they didn’t think this bid through before accepting it.

        And I’m someone who was in favor of a Middle Eastern World Cup

  5. Charles

    December 16, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    FIFA needs to pressure some parts of Europe to abandon the winter calendar for the summer calendar used by countries like the US.

    MLS is the leader from now on, just fall in place !!!

    To be serious, I never understood why FIFA was all over pressuring the US in the first place. Do they really think playing winter soccer is a good idea in Columbus, Toronto, etc. ? There is NO way they could.

    There is no way they could be thinking, that is.

    • Joe

      December 16, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      All due respect to our mid-western winters, but it’s not as if London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Sunderland are balmy paradises in February. Not to mention the poor Scottish Premier League.

      I’ve been to several frigid NFL games and I thought it was kind of fun to be out there in those conditions.

      • Dave C

        December 16, 2010 at 9:57 pm

        England might be fairly chilly and miserable in the middle of Winter, but it’s nowhere NEAR as cold as a lot of the US. As an immigrant to NYC from the North of England, I had never experienced winters as bad as NYC winters until I got here – and NYC is fairly mild compared to many places.

        • Joe

          December 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

          After a weekend of ridiculous cancellations by EPL teams, at least I can say for sure that the US would never wuss out of games like that. If MLS went to a winter schedule, they’d play on a foot of snow.

          Whether or not that’s good for the game is another story…

    • Joe

      December 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      That being said, speaking as a global soccer fan, I do pay a lot more attention to MLS when it’s the only game in town. My interest wanes once the European leagues start up again.

      And that’s the real problem with moving to a winter schedule. MLS simply can’t compete with those leagues for viewers, and certainly doesn’t stand a chance going against NFL.

  6. JT

    December 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    If FIFA can change their calendar, why does FIFA pressure the US to change its calendar?

    • Charles

      December 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm


    • Cavan

      December 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

      Because they’re corrupt arrogant fools.

  7. Noah

    December 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    If they do it during the winter, they’d also have to schedule it so it doesn’t conflict with the Olympics.

  8. flagermunsen

    December 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I really hope FIFA does makes this change. It may spur enough of a revolt to get a competing event off the ground. A single-elimination tournament like the NCAA basketball tournament might be very exciting. Who doesn’t like the round of 16? Why not start there or at 32 or 64? I believe there were 65 games played in South Africa. A 64 game tournament with a 3rd place game would require 64 games. Roughly the same amount of revenue. If some break away countries wanted to start small, then start with the final 16.

  9. Dave

    December 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I will start by saying I think FIFA has chosen these two hosts for all the wrong reasons. That being said, the principle of making the WORLD Cup open to many nations, regardless of location or climate is a great idea. Spreading the game to actually spread the game (not line your pockets) is totally fine with me.

    Now that Qatar and Russia have the WC and the damage has been done, FIFA should work with them to accommodate the best tournament possible. I see nothing wrong with a global tournament like the World Cup being the king of football and something that everyone has to work around.

  10. Terry

    December 16, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Does this mean that the Russian Premier League will want to switch back to the summer schedule after they host in 2018? (They’re supposed to abandon their current summer schedule in a couple years.)

  11. AdamEdg

    December 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Wow. Can FIFA bend over backwards any more for Qatar? Every time something new comes out, the corruption becomes more evident.
    Does FIFA realize that this move will put them pretty close to the 2022 Winter Olympics? Even though the Winter Games are not as popular as the Summer Games, I have to imagine that the WC may suffer a ratings ding. At the very least, excitement will be fairly low for that WC…

    • Dave C

      December 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

      I doubt the Winter Olympics will have much of an effect on viewership of the WC. It’s all crazy sports anyway (people sliding down ice chutes on sled, guys skiing and shooting, old ladies pushing rocks over ice rinks…it’s all nuts).

  12. Earl Reed

    December 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Your response about the air-conditioned stadiums was my immediate response.

    I think we should craft some other “changes” that would help the Qatari World Cup. Here’s one: make Group A (the one with Qatar) be a group containing only teams ranked below 75th on the FIFA Rankings! Or maybe there’s a requirement that every team in the Cup has to donate their best player to the Qatari National Team! The possibilities!

    • Joe

      December 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      Yes. Because if there’s anything we learned from the South Africa World Cup, it’s that the host nation must be one of the best teams in the world. We also learned that no team ranked below #75 could possibly qualify for a world cup as a non-host…except ones from the northern part of the Korean peninsula of course.

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