The subject of the timing of the Qatar World Cup in 2022 is back in the news today. Uefa president Michel Platini has insisted that the tournament “will be in winter” as “it’s not possible to play in May when it’s 40 degrees.”
Europe’s big leagues would prefer May if the tournament is moved from its traditional June/July slot as this would cause them the least disruption. Fifa’s preference is apparently for a switch to November/December and they have set up a task force to investigate the possibility, due to report in March.
I’m no meteorologist but I could have forecast that a summer World Cup in Qatar might be a little on the warm side. In fact, since moving to Malaysia I’ve been amazed to discover that many people from the Middle East visit here during their summer in a bid to escape the heat. Trust me, it’s not exactly cool here.
Platini rarely broke sweat as an elegant midfielder in the 70’s and 80’s and he seems very relaxed about the prospect of the World Cup dates being changed: “I have no problem whether it’s in November, December, January or February” he said.
I suspect some others might though: other nations that bid on the basis of it being a summer tournament, other leagues, competitions and even other sports. Fifa president Blatter has already pledged that the World Cup will not clash with the Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, Theo van Seggelen, the secretary-general of Fifpro (the global players’ union) has warned that players could boycott the tournament if it’s played in the searing heat of summer in Qatar and they feel it poses a risk to their health.
Van Seggelen believes that finals must be played in November for the sake of the players and to avoid a clash with the Winter Olympics. In my favourite quote of the entire episode he said: “you cannot blame the International Olympic Committee for having their tournament in the winter.” Indeed Theo, hosting the Winter Olympics in winter does seem entirely reasonable on the part of the IOC.
However this ends there’s likely to be a lot of red faces; the number of which will multiply if Scotland manage to qualify for a World Cup in Qatar.