It’s a winter World Cup! FIFA chief says 2022 tournament in Qatar will be played between November and January

FIFA’s secretary general has stated that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar ‘will not be in June or July’.

Jerome Valcke, who has been given the task of looking at alternative dates due to the fierce heat of the summer in Qatar, says it is likely to be held sometime between November 15 and January 15.

Valcke told France Info (radio station): ‘It will not be in June or July. Frankly I think it’ll be played between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.

Winter: FIFA have confirmed that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played between November and January. Pictured is an illustration of the Al Gharafa Stadium which has been proposed as a venue for the tournament

Winter: FIFA have confirmed that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played between November and January. Pictured is an illustration of the Al Gharafa Stadium which has been proposed as a venue for the tournament

‘If you play between November 15 and the end of the year that’s when the weather is at its most favourable.’

Valcke suggested it will be ‘like a warm spring in Europe’ with ‘an average temperature of 25 degrees, therefore it’s perfect for football’.

Valcke’s statement however is likely to need ratification by FIFA’s executive committee.

Modern design: The Al Wakrah Stadium is proposed to be a 40,000-seater venueModern design: The Al Wakrah Stadium is proposed to be a 40,000-seater venue

Why is the Qatari summer dangerous?

– Temperatures can easily reach 40C during the day. They have been as high as 53C

– Stadiums will be air conditioned but even inside temperatures could still be upward of 25C

– Many fans will not have tickets and so will be exposed to the hotter temperatures

– In June there is nearly 14 hours of daylight

– Average cloud cover is 0%

– Average chance of rainfall is 1%

– Humidity can get as high as 90%

However, FIFA said in a statement that it was Valcke’s own view but that no decision had been taken on the timing.

The statement said: ‘Secretary General Jerome Valcke explained today in the Radio France interview – as he had already mentioned previously – that in his view the 2022 FIFA World Cup must take place in winter and the best possible time frame would be 15 November to 15 January.

‘However, the precise event date is still subject to an ongoing consultation process which involves all main event stakeholders, including both the international football community (FIFA, confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs, players) as well as FIFA’s commercial partners (commercial affiliates and media rights licensees).

‘As the event will not be played until eight years’ time the consultation process will not be rushed and will be given the necessary time to consider all of the elements relevant for a decision.

‘Consequently, no decision will be taken before the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil as agreed by the FIFA executive committee.’

Mind the gap! Premier League will be hit by enforced winter break

By Craig Hope

So the 2022 World Cup looks set to be switched to winter, what does this mean for the Premier League?

In short, disruption. Be it a November/December tournament or contained within January, the Premier League calendar will be forced to arrange its fixtures around the finals. 

Such as?

We’d be looking at a July kick off for starters with a likely finish date of the following June. There could also been an increase in midweek fixtures did the calendar allow.

Would we lose the festive fixtures?

Certainly some of them would go. There remains a possibility that football could return towards the end of December were the World Cup to end in the middle of the month. A January tournament, however, would almost certainly see the festive fixtures scrapped as there would be a mandatory release date on which players would leave their clubs to join up with the national team.

That’s the Premier League, what about the cups?

There has already been some suggestion that FA Cup replays would be sacrificed. The League Cup would probably remain the same, although quite where it would rank in clubs’ list of priorities is anyone’s guess. The Champions League currently breaks between December and February and so could avoid disruption.

How many seasons will it affect?

The Premier League has claimed that there will be three seasons of disruption to allow the time to adjust between calendars. FIFA has rejected this although there are sure to be at least two truncated pre/close seasons.


Grand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World CupGrand designs: The proposed Al-Rayyan football stadium in Doha, to be built for the 2022 World Cup

Meanwhile, Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said he was ‘totally surprised’ at the statement – and confirmed the decision had to be taken by the executive committee.

‘I was totally surprised this morning when I heard what Jerome has said,’ Boyce said.

‘As I understand it all the stakeholders will have discussions and report back to the executive committee of FIFA and no final decision will be made on when the 2022 World Cup would be played until December 2014 or March 2015.

‘As far as I am concerned that remains the situation and there has been nothing said to me to make that any different.’

Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said Valcke ‘may have been stating his personal opinion’.

He also said there had been a general assumption that the 2022 World Cup could not be played in the summer due to the heat. That view has previously been expressed by UEFA’s 54 member countries and FIFA president Sepp Blatter but no decision on alternative dates has been taken.

‘There is an expectation but there has been no decision,’ said Boyce.

Heat: The stadium will be air conditioned because of the temperature in Qatar

Uefa president Michel Platini said last year that the tournament must be held during the winter to protect the players and fans from the searing desert heat.

Temperatures can exceed 40 degrees in the summer in the middle-eastern country, compared to a more comfortable 17 degrees in the winter.

The finals were controversially awarded to Qatar in 2011 with Platini, the UEFA president, one of those who voted in their favour.

‘I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions,’ the former France star said. ‘Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter.

‘With over 40 degrees, playing football is impossible and for fans it would also be unbearable.’

Spectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another  one of the proposed venuesSpectacular: The Qatar University Stadium in Doha, another one of the proposed venues

FA chairman Greg Dyke also expressed concern about a summer tournament.

‘They (FIFA) were warned,’ he said in August. ‘There was a report that said there could be real health risks if you held it there.

‘Even if you can overcome the problem by playing games in air-conditioned stadiums and find places for teams to train, the real concern is for fans.

‘Fans turn up in large numbers, often if they haven’t got tickets. If you remember the German World Cup, there were large numbers watching from outside the stadium on big screens and it was a great atmosphere.

‘How can you do that in 40 degrees? You can’t. It is actually dangerous for fans.’

Rob Harris of Associated Press has come up with a plan of how things could work

May 2022: European season ends as usual.

June: When the World Cup would usually be played, footballers will have the month off.

July: Champions League qualifiers as normal. There might have to be fewer qualifying entrants to cope with the earlier start.

Mid-July: Start of season for leading European leagues.

Mid-August: European transfer window closes.

Aug 23-24: Champions League group stage begins.

Sept 2: Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Sept 6: Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Sept 30: Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Oct 4: Euro 2024 qualifiers.

Nov 1-2: Champions League group matchday 6.

Nov 4: Mandatory release of players two weeks before World Cup. There would be no need for the usual postseason rest period before the World Cup given the event falls in the middle of the season when they would usually be playing up to three times a week. There would be space for the usual World Cup warm-up games, which would take the place of the regular November international date.

Nov 18: World Cup begins in Qatar.

Dec 1: World Cup group stage ends. 368 of the 736 players exit.

Dec 4: World Cup round of 16.

Dec 6: World Cup round of 16 ends. 184 players exit.

Dec 9: World Cup quarterfinals.

Dec 10: World Cup quarterfinals. 92 players exit.

Dec 13: World Cup semifinals.

Dec 14: World Cup semifinals.

Dec 17: World Cup 3rd-4th place. 46 players exit.

Dec 18: World Cup final, which falls on Qatar National Day. The final 46 players exit the tournament.

Dec 26: The Premier League could return to start its traditional packed Christmas fixture program. Other leagues could chose to resume later if they determine that players returning from the World Cup after reaching the final or third-place game need a longer break.

Mid to late June: European leagues end.

August 2023: Premier League season starts as usual after a two-month break. In 2014, the Premier League season is starting just a month after the World Cup final in Brazil.

QATAR will host World Cup 2022: Sepp Blatter

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