The best way to deal with a really dumb decision is to double down on it, and make a few more really dumb decisions. At least that’s what appears to be FIFA’s thinking, which really shouldn’t surprise us anymore because FIFA.
So, what’s the best way to deal with the really dumb situation of giving the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, giving in to widespread corruption, ignoring a series of human rights violations, and peddling the hilarious pipe-dream of air conditioned open-air stadiums to enable playing in the searing heat of the desert?
Obviously it’s to move the World Cup to the winter, right into the middle of the club season for the vast majority of players who will be taking part in it, that’s how! It’s genius, really.
Therefore, the 2022 World Cup is set to begin in almost exactly three years from now, on November 21, 2022, and run for just four weeks exactly — 28 days, which is 4 days shorter than in 2018 with the same amount of matches, 64 — with the final scheduled for December 18, 2022. FIFA actually confirmed this way back in 2015, but it’s starting to become relevant again as we get closer to the event itself.
Assuming the clubs don’t boycott or take FIFA to court over all this nonsense, how will the Premier League deal with this disruption?
A few weeks ago, a draft schedule made the media rounds, which shows a six-week break for the 2022-23 Premier League season, giving an extra week off before and after the tournament. The last league fixture would be on the 12th of November, while the club season would restart just in time for Boxing Day and the all-important festive fixtures in December. Here’s that in graphical form, if you’re a visual learner.
Where might one find six extra weeks in the middle of the season? The BBC’s report claims that the Premier League would start a week earlier than normal (so the first week of August) and finish a week later than normal. In addition, FIFA’s 2022 calendar does away with two of the three international breaks, eschewing the October and November breaks (two weeks each) and keeping one in September, albeit a bit later than normal (end of the month instead of the start). Put that all together, and you’ve got the requisite six weeks.
That of course does not alleviate the concerns over how massively disruptive the tournament will be to the season itself, nor how badly it will affect the players’ fitness, concentration, and motivational levels. There’s also the problem of having to squeeze in the League Cup and Champions/Europa League matches somewhere, too, but UEFA are not worried about that just yet — they won’t release the schedules until 2021 apparently.
Maybe by then we will have come to our senses and moved the World Cup back to a more normal configuration.