By Cy Brown
FIFA, everyone's least-favorite sporteaucratic body (sorry, NCAA and IOC), will move World Cup 2022 in Qatar to November and December, according to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated.
A FIFA task force will meet in Doha next week and make that recommendation, and the FIFA Executive Committee is set to make the decision final at its meeting in Zurich next month.
The move is being made in an attempt to protect players and fans from watching the games in the ridiculous heat of a Qatari summer. The average high temperatures for Doha in June and July is roughly 107 degrees fahrenheit. Qatar had plans for fully air-conditioned pitches, but it soon became apparent how absurd that notion was. By comparison, the average temperatures are in the high 70s in November and December. So, yeah. Not as stifling.
The decision to move the tournament from it's traditional summer spot has long been backed by FIFA figurehead/evil cartoon Sepp Blatter, but the move will certainly have ramifications.
European club seasons will be affected
Most of the biggest leagues in the world, including all the best in Europe, are in their respective season's full-swing by November and December. Wahl said FIFA is planning to shift other international dates as a way to compromise and make up for the missed matches and keep the leagues on schedule, but there's no doubt this will shake up the competitions in a major way.
Injuries happen, especially in events like the World Cup where players are giving everything they have to win every match. And even the worst player on most national squads is an important player to some pro team. So we could see one club team dominate in September and October, and a different side dominate on the other post-World Cup. Plus, any injury that happens during the Cup is sure to draw the ire of fans.
The American sports calendar will be crowded
Early winter is prime NFL and college football time, so it's only logical to ask how this move will affect those trying to view all the footballs. The time difference between Qatar and the east coast of the U.S. is eight hours, so early kickoffs in Qatar will be played in the wee hours of the morning in America, and the late games should be finished before any American football games kickoff. So the 2022 World Cup will add more sports to the already packed winter schedule. Of course, as our own Will Leitch wrote, that also means that U.S. soccer nerds may be the only ones watching.
There's another problem, though...
Qatar shouldn't be allowed to host the World Cup
Having debates about the time of the year to hold the tourney is all well and good, but the truth is Qatar shouldn't be able to host the tournament at all. The move to winter shows how incapable they are of handling the tournament the way it is normally handled, but that isn't the real issue.
The problem is the estimated 4,000 migrant workers who will die while building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. Yeah, Qatar bribed its way to hosting duties. That's par for the course in FIFA. Let them have it. But not stripping it of the World Cup is heinous and unjust.
What more could we expect, though?
Cy Brown is a contributor at Sports on Earth. Follow him on Twitter @CEPBrown.