’Tis the Season: FIFA Changes Qatar World Cup to December

Reuters/Christian Hartmann

FIFA announced that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place in November and December instead of the summer. The final is scheduled for December 18, only a week before Christmas.

“The Executive Committee today confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will be staged in November/December with the final to be on December 18,” claimed FIFA. “In principle, it was agreed that the tournament should be played over a reduced timeframe, for instance 28 days. The working group for the international match calendar will meet in due course to finalize the international match calendar for the 2019-2022 cycle.”

In May 2014, FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted it was a mistake to award Qatar the World Cup due to scorching temperatures in the summer. A quick Google search of “Qatar climate” shows that summer days occasionally reach 50C, which is 122F. The average high in June and July is 41C/106F. These temperatures are dangerous for the soccer players, but also for the soccer fans in the stadium.

UEFA, the association for European soccer, even pushed for the final date to be December 23, but FIFA members quickly shot down that idea. There is no report stating which members of UEFA pushed for that date, but obviously that would cause major disruptions for players and fans due to Christmas. The 18th also allows for players to return home and rest before the traditional Boxing Day matches.

“Dec. 18 is a good date for the final — perhaps Dec. 23 would be too late if you are trying to get all the fans back on Dec. 24,” said UEFA President Michel Platini. “Dec. 18 is fine for UEFA — we can accommodate any changes to the Champions League. But FIFA must now protect the international dates for the national associations — there are four international matches that could be affected and those are the lifeblood for the national associations. FIFA must look at the international calendar and make sure those dates are protected for the national associations.”

Even though the UEFA supported FIFA’s decision, European clubs and leagues did not want FIFA to change the dates. The English Premier League is “hectic” in December.

“Yeah, very disappointed that’s 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,” said Richard Scudamore, the CEO of the English Premier League.

The change of date causes conflicts for television in America. FOX owns the rights to the 2022 World Cup, but just days after the conclusion of the World Cup college football bowl games generally dominate the schedule. FOX regularly shows NFL games on Sundays as well.


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