The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is expected to cause significant disruption to the already busy football calendar. FIFA via Getty Images
The race to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar began with a global qualifying campaign. Next Thursday, April 1, the 600-day countdown to the start of the tournament begins on April 21. November 2022, and the intervening period promises to be eventful and overwhelming for many of the world’s best players.
While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic this season have placed unprecedented demands on players through work overload, the workload can only increase in the weeks and months leading up to Qatar 2022.
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The major leagues, national associations and continental confederations are yet to agree a timetable that would allow a six-week postponement of the 2022-23 World Cup season, while the pandemic effect has created uncertainty for clubs embarking on lucrative pre-season tours in the summer of 2022. But while the main issues are being resolved, the focus is on the men waiting to play in domestic leagues and cups, European competitions and international tournaments.
One thing is certain: The 2022 World Cup, thanks to its November-December date, will have a major impact on football in the years to come. What can players and fans expect?
Why is Qatar 2022 having such an impact on the calendar?
When Qatar was declared the winner of the bid to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, the bid was based on the tournament being held in June and July, like all previous tournaments. But concerns about scorching summer temperatures in the Middle East, which average 41.2 degrees Celsius in June, have led FIFA to move the World Cup to November-December.
This decision immediately created a serious problem for the club’s game, especially in Europe where the season traditionally runs from August to May. The last two months of the year are a busy period with many home games and group matches in the Champions League and Europa League.
Qatar 2022, which will take place from November 21 to 18. In December 2022, club matches will be suspended for at least six weeks – one week before the tournament to prepare and one week after to allow players to recover. So the 2022-23 season will have to be restructured in some way to make the club game and World Cup run as smoothly as possible. But the knock-on effect of the World Cup being cancelled in the middle of the club season will affect the start and end dates of the 2022-23 season and possibly the start of the 2023-24 campaign.
What is the workload of the players until the World Cup?
The demands on players vary from league to league, but the big stars can expect to play 55-60 games a season if their club is successful. And then you have international instruments. Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has played more minutes in the 2019-20 season than any other player in the world : According to Transfermarkt, he played 5509 minutes in 61 games for club and country last season. FC Copenhagen defender Viktor Nelsson is second with 5,366 minutes.
United reached the semi-finals in three competitions last season, giving Maguire the same number of appearances. However, with Manchester City and Bayern Munich regularly finishing top in all competitions, the top players could each have played over 100 games for their clubs and countries in the run-up to the World Cup. But then they have to play in the tournament – the highlight of many players’ careers – and return for the second half of the 2022-23 season. And if players play for a team like Bayern, United or City, they can expect a trip to Asia or North America for a pre-season in the summer of 2022, which will only increase their playing time.
So what are the solutions?
When the decisions are made, the rival parties – FIFA, the clubs, the national associations, the continental confederations – still have to reach an agreement.
The obvious answer would be to simply start the 2022-23 club season at the beginning of August and extend it to the beginning of June to give clubs more playing time and overcome the effect of the 4-6 week break in November and December.
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But UEFA has already scheduled the 2023 Champions League final for May 27 in Munich, one day before the 2022 final in St Petersburg. So there is no indication that UEFA is extending its season to take account of the disruption caused by the World Cup. UEFA will also lose two Champions League/Europa League match days to the World Cup, so when will they be played? We’re still waiting for an answer.
As for the domestic leagues, sources told ESPN that negotiations on start and end dates are ongoing, but while it seems easy, as was the case this season, to move European games to a shorter time frame, that doesn’t solve the problem of finding a place for the 4 to 6 weeks of league games that will have to be rescheduled because of the World Championship.
Has the pandemic made the problem worse?
Yes. CONMEBOL qualifiers for the World Cup in South America began in October last year, but the full qualifying round was postponed this month due to travel restrictions that force European players to stay with their clubs. These games will likely be played next season, as the Copa America will take place this summer, a year after it was postponed due to the pandemic.
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In Europe, Euro 2020 also takes place in June and July. What should have been a free summer for the players is taken up by two major tournaments, plus the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, which will see major countries like Germany, France, Spain, Argentina and Brazil participate. The pandemic and the postponement of the Euros, the Copa and the Olympics have had an impact on the revenues of the big clubs, who are now having to forego spending on the summer tour for the second year in a row, forcing them to supplement their budgets for next summer.
So the impact on the 2021-22 season is still uncertain, but any disruption to this campaign will inevitably increase overcrowding and demand next year.
What do the clubs think?
Sources at several top clubs have told ESPN that hosting the 2022 World Cup is unnecessary and impractical, but that they have no choice but to go along with it. However, sources also said that the clubs will withhold players until the last possible date of their departure to Qatar to draft them for the competition just a week before the start of the World Cup. Similarly, players can return to club sports just days after the World Cup, which can be challenging for players who make it to the semi-finals and finals.
International coaches often have a long preparation time before a major tournament with training camps and friendlies, but that is unlikely to be the case in 2022. Expect the clubs to insist that the World Cup meets their requirements, not the other way around.
The European Club Association (ECA), whose members include Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool and other top teams, had initially asked FIFA to hold the tournament in April-May 2022, before deciding to move it to November-December. After losing that battle, the clubs and UEFA blocked FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s attempts to expand Qatar 2022 from 32 to 48 teams to prevent their players from playing more.
Will football adopt Arsène Wenger’s unified calendar project?
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during the winter months makes sense, but admitted it would affect the European league schedule.
Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal manager, is now head of global development at FIFA and recently proposed an overhaul of the football calendar that would combine the March to November season.
I am convinced that to harmonize the world calendar, someone has to give in, and that is either Europe or the rest of the world, Wenger said. It would make everything easier.
In an ideal world, the simplicity of Wenger’s plan would have solved the problem, but perhaps the main reason why Qatar 2022 was moved to November-December was the summer weather, and the same goes for many competitions in Europe, where the heat in countries like Spain, France, Greece and Russia makes it impossible to host club matches. This would be a similar problem in much of Africa and Asia.
Under the plan, southern hemisphere teams must also play in harsh winter conditions, so the proposal comes down to climate. So moving the football season from March to November would not be a solution for Qatar 2022, even if it could be achieved in such a short time frame.
Has anyone thought about the requirements for players?
Senior players are becoming more vocal on a number of issues, but so far no concerns have been raised about the workload in Qatar until 2022. The players are generally eager to play, but the coaches often talk about what is required of their team.
Earlier this season, England coach Gareth Southgate said the football calendar issue surrounding Qatar had not yet been resolved, but urged coaches to play their part.
I hope the coaches will be consulted as part of any discussions, Southgate said. It’s not necessarily me, it’s maybe the coaches of the big clubs, maybe all the national team coaches, whatever. But in general, many decisions are made without the coaches’ involvement.
When will we get a confirmed schedule for Qatar 2022 football?
This question remains unanswered. The issue of managing the COWID-19 pandemic has rightly diverted attention from the need to plan for the 2022 timetable, but sources say the resolution is unlikely to be passed before the end of this year, before the 2021-22 season.
But there is no doubt that the next two years will be busier than ever for the world’s best players.
Qatar has been a controversial choice from the start, so what will it look like in 2022?
FIFA has changed the selection process for the World Cups since 2010, when it was decided who would be the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The vote on the winning bids from Russia and Qatar was overshadowed by allegations of corruption. Each football country now has the right to vote on the potential host of future tournaments, instead of the 22 members of FIFA’s executive committee.
In addition to the controversy over moving the tournament from its usual place on the calendar to June-July, Qatar is also under fire for its treatment of migrant workers who have been involved in the construction of many of the country’s new stadiums since 2010. According to a report in last month’s The Guardian newspaper, more than 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar during that period.
Homosexuality is an illegal crime in Qatar, punishable by prison, and human rights violations in the Gulf states are widely condemned: Norwegian footballers wear T-shirts with the slogan Human rights on and off the pitch ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Gibraltar.
When ESPN asked in 2019 about Qatar’s position on homosexuality, Hassan Al-Tawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for the Implementation and Legacy of Qatar 2022, said: We are a conservative people and we ask visitors to appreciate our culture while accepting our hospitality. Open display of love is not part of our culture and we ask people not to do that [openly show their love].
International interest in Qatar will only increase as the tournament approaches, and it is likely that the host nation will be overshadowed during the event itself like no other World Cup ever before.
frequently asked questions
Why will the World Cup be held in Qatar in November?
The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar and for the first time the tournament will take place in November and December instead of the traditional summer, to cater for the warmer temperatures in the Gulf state.
Which country will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup from 21 November to 18 November? Alignment December ?
Qatar will host the world’s largest sporting event. The country, located on the Arabian Peninsula, has a population of about 2.8 million. The capital Doha will host the Games, along with four other cities: Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Al Wakra and Lusail.
Will the 2022 World Cup feature 48 teams?
After the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan, this will be the second World Cup to be held entirely in Asia. … Moreover, the tournament will be the last one with 32 teams. The 2026 tournament is expected to feature 48 teams from the United States, Mexico and Canada.
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