The World Cup has been a fun diversion this summer, taking hold of the slow section of the sports calendar and delivering quality matches during the day.
Don’t get used to it.
Once the final whistle in Russia has been blown, the world of international soccer sets their sights on Qatar. The tiny nation has been awarded the 2022 World Cup, but there is a caveat.
Because summer temperatures in Qatar make soccer unsafe, despite Qatar’s promise of in-stadium air conditioning, FIFA has agreed to move the World Cup. The summer tournament will now instead be playing in November and December of 2022.
Officially, the 2022 World Cup will be played from November 18 until December 18.
It’s a move that not only affects the tournament, but the entire sport altogether. The majority of domestic leagues, as well as Champions League play, all occur during those months. Right now, it’s expected that those leagues will play split seasons, with a hiatus taking place during the World Cup.
The real loser here, besides the athletes that will endure a grueling schedule, are the fans. The World Cup is much-needed during June and July, when even internationally, it’s a slow season for sports. Besides Wimbledon and the occasional golf tournament, there aren’t many big-ticket events during this time of the season. World Cup has been a wonderful distraction this summer, and now we’re just four weeks from Premier League and about eight weeks until American football.
In addition to scheduling, the Qatar World Cup has also raised other issues. First and foremost is the issue of corruption, which has cast a major shadow over FIFA in recent years. The decision to award the event to Qatar was so shocking that there was support for a full re-vote in 2011.
It’s a long list of bribery accusations when it comes to Qatar’s World Cup campaign, but no foul play has been directly uncovered.
Once the bid was approved, Qatar began working on state-of-the-art stadiums with air conditioning to host the games. This has created additional problems, mostly involving human rights pertaining to labor and immigration. The campaign group Human Rights Watch has stated that hundreds of workers are dying in Qatar every year, mostly from working in extreme conditions. Sunday, the day of the World Cup final, the high in Qatar was 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are also issues with the thousands of people expected to flock to Qatar for the event. Alcohol isn’t legal to consume in public in Qatar, but there will be designated areas for fans to drink during the games. That’s not the only oppressive law greeting fans in 2022, as homosexuality is a crime punishable by jail time in Qatar. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter joked in 2010 that homosexual fans will be permitted to attend games, but “should refrain from sexual activities” in Qatar.
So it’s a dark road ahead for soccer fans. If there’s any silver lining, it’s in the following World Cup in 2026. If we’re still around then, that World Cup will be jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.