FIFA, the global football governing organization that is steeped in corruption, has proposed that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar be played from November to late December, instead of at its usual time from June to July. FIFA’s official reasoning is that it’s far too hot in Qatar in the summer (July temperatures can surpass 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Farenheit during the day). So in the best interest of the players and attending fans, FIFA said, it should be moved to cooler months.
At first glance, this makes sense. Playing a month-long football tournament in temperatures that reach the triple digits is not a realistic proposition. But that’s why it should never have been given to Qatar in the first place. FIFA first promised that all of its brand new stadiums—the construction of which has led to the deaths of hundreds of migrant workers—would have state-of-the-art cooling systems, but that idea was predictably abandoned due to costs.
But here’s why moving the World Cup to the winter is just as stupid as locating it in Qatar to begin with:
First, the timing is entirely inconvenient for players in Barclays Premier League, La Liga, and a variety of other domestic leagues around the world that schedule matches at that time. These leagues, which provide most of the players in the World Cup, would have to seriously reconfigure their winter schedules—if not abandon them—in order to accommodate FIFA’s wishes.
As compensation for moving the World Cup to December, FIFA has reportedly agreed to shorten the tournament by a few days. Also dumb. That will hardly have an effect on club leagues and is merely an attempt by FIFA to appear as if it is compromising.
A winter World Cup will suck much of the fun out of it for soccer fanatics, many of whom live in climates that are cold in December, and they look forward to gathering and socializing outdoors to watch.
The move, in reality, is an act of desperation to save the tournament, masked by FIFA’s flimsy justification that it’s what’s best for players and fans. It’s certainly not what fans want, if the response across social media is any indication. In many cases these fans are also die-hard fans of club teams. Some leagues, backed by the fans, are threatening a boycott.
The move is also bad news for US broadcaster Fox, which won the rights to air the tournament exclusively in the US. The World Cup in 2014 garnered the highest ever ratings for soccer in the US, up 42% from 2010. Broadcasting the tournament in the winter could seriously jeopardize that growth. Now, it will have to contend with the ever-popular NFL (though some have speculated that Fox was awarded the rights specifically because it wouldn’t make a fuss about the switch to winter).
In sum, the suggestion is the best interest of no one but FIFA.