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Report: Qatar World Cup to be moved to winter

Blatter Qatar World Cup 2022 (photo by FIFA)

By CAITLIN MURRAY

A  World Cup played in a different time of year than the summer is apparently on the cusp of becoming reality.

According to a report from Sports Illustrated, the decision to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter is all but approved. Citing unnamed sources, the report indicates the World Cup will be held in November and December to mitigate Qatar’s sweltering heat, moving from the usual June and July schedule.

A FIFA task force will reportedly convene in Doha next week to recommend the winter schedule and FIFA’s Executive Committee is expected to approve the proposal in Zurich next month.

Moving the World Cup had long been discussed as a solution for the hot climate of Qatar, which can reach unsafe levels in the summer, but the idea also raised concerns about how club schedules would be impacted. According to Wednesday’s report, the new plan will affect one European club season by cutting some of FIFA’s international dates.

Last month, one of FIFA’s members tasked with investigating the schedule said a winter World Cup could affect as many as 50 league around the world.

SI’s report comes on the heels of a surprising move by FIFA to extend FOX’s broadcast rights for an additional World Cup cycle without a new round of bidding.

FOX had bid a reported $425 million for broadcast rights starting with the 2015 Women’s World Cup through to the men’s World Cup in 2022. But last week, FIFA abruptly announced the deal had been extended to 2026, causing many in the media to speculate the extension was consolation for unannounced plans to push the event to winter, which is a crowded sports season in North America.

ESPN, which held the rights through last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, spoke out against the extension, confirming FIFA awarded FOX the additional cycle of rights without bids.

“We were not invited to be involved in this process,” ESPN said in a statement. “Considering the high quality presentation that ESPN demonstrated and the exposure we brought to FIFA events through all our platforms, it was surprising and disappointing to learn of this when the press release was issued.”

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What do you think of this news? Think a winter World Cup would work? Surprised FIFA is going to approve it?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I still don’t see how club teams (the people that actually pay these players their million dollar wages and have money invested in their health and performance) can justify sending their star players to a World Cup in the middle of a season. Especially if teams are fighting against relegation or trying to get a last Euro tourney spot or trying to win a league. FIFA can try and force teams all they want but the bottom line is that FIGA doesn’t pay these million dollar wages and the risk would be way too high for every single club team

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  2. So lets review –

    We will build 12 beautiful new stadiums for the tournament! Wait, what? 12? How about 8!
    (Although I don’t have that big a problem with it as it will save the lives of countless Nepalese workers)

    We will play in the Summer! Wait, are you crazy? Winter, winter is better.

    What’s next?

    Grass fields? Are you kidding this is the desert! Turf!

    Welcome people from all over the world? Oh boy, that may be a little much!

    Maybe something else, but you know it’s coming.

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  3. 40,000 dead immigrant workers dead by kickoff….blood on FIFA’s hands. Oh yeah, forget the homophobic laws and the alcohol situation. I sincerely hope this blows up in your face FIFA.

    UEFA and CONCACAF should pull out start their own tournament and see who else joins.

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  4. Those 50 leagues have 7 years warning to change it up. My guess is the leagues that care will halt play for a month or start their season a month earlier then conclude their season a month late.

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  5. I know it’s 7 years away but having Qatar 2022 during winter, would defenitly help MLS if they keep the same schedule from March to December.
    Imagine by 2022, MLS might have 26 to 28 teams but I say 2022 and might be the biggest year of MLS history and FIFA might ruin the year or make it even better.
    It all depends if MLS wants to go for the international schedule or stays the same.
    For now MLS will denietly have 24 teams by 2019 or 2020 and year 2022 MLS might have more teams and have huge plans, and that’s not even mentioning 2026.
    We all know MLS will explode once USA gets a World Cup and 2026 might be it or even 2022.
    At the end if the day, MLS needs to plan towards 2022 and 2026.
    2022 might mean 26 teams in MLS and their biggest season of all time or
    2026 which could mean USA World Cup and 28 teams in MLS and their biggest season of all.

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  6. Even if you put aside all concerns about oil money, or bribery, or worker rights, or safety, the fact is that FIFA changed the rules after the game was over. Everybody bid on a summer WC. And after they chose Qatar, FIFA has decided that it’s a winter WC because its preferred host could not possibly put on a summer WC. That is fundamentally unfair in any language.

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    • Corrupt FIFA bureaucrats took the money and made the decision to give it to Qatar – and since then Blatter (who actually voted against it) and the rest have been scrambling to save face (for themselves and the corrupt who took the money) in order to make this farcical decision happen.

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    • Disagree.
      For one, Russia didn’t bid on the WC being held in the summer with ultra-modern, air conditioned stadiums that can be disassembled later and donated to “3rd World” nations.
      Two, Russia has the capability, due to FIFA’s former rules about the number of cities required to host a WC, infrastructure, etc to actually host a successful tournament. FIFA threw those rules out the window by naming Qatar as the host, which essentially will be holding the tournament within two cities and their sprawling metropolises.
      I’m not going to pretend that the Russian bid was clean or that the Russian Federation doesn’t have some human rights issues of their own or their recent will to bully the former Soviet republics – those are obviously troubling. But I wouldn’t deny a bid based on that alone.
      Long story short, Russia can actually pull off a good World Cup within the traditional rules/confines of when/how a tournament is hosted. All those rules are being thrown out the window when it comes to the Qatari ’22 WC.

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  7. @Zach, i dont know but that should absolutly happen. I wonder how many big nations would qualify & skip the official WC in Nov for a summer tourament

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    • Not much, my friend. I think this may be Sunil’s long-term game. FIFA’s only real “value” is organizing inter-confederation tournaments. The Copa America has effectively been organized between between CONCACAF & CONMEBOL, with FIFA only recently having given their passive consent.

      If the Copa America is big success we all suspect…. lots of federations may be asking this same question.

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  8. So an American company see a chance to make a lot of money and jumps right in completely disregarding the death of slave workers in Qatar. Sounds about right.

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  9. We will run the MLS playoffs during the World Cup. We will not bend for foreign interests. People would much rather see the Philly-Montreal play-in game over Brazil-Argentina.

    Tell ’em, Sunil!

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  10. what a joke. such a bummer the next two World Cups are going to less than desirable. also, i’m willing to bet the unnamed sources are Fox/Fox Sports people given SI and Wahl’s relationship with them and the fact Fox is the rights holder.

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  11. I recall reading somewhere a few months back that FOX had threatened FIFA about moving the Cup because they bid with the understanding that it would be played in the summer (when their programming was light) and not winter when football is king. I think they threatened to sue them and demand a refund for whatever fees had already been paid. It sure looks like this is a payback to them in exchange for their assent…no bid rights granted for a sporting evemt that has had continuously escalating tv ratings?… does anyone else recall this story?

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    • It’s been floating around the internet in various places. And basically, it’s probably correct. FIFA has probably spent the last few months making concessions to key partners sponsors that would ensure their cooperation when this move was announced. So far, so good.

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      • That’s more than a “concession”. They cost themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Especially if 2026 winds up in the USA, which is probable.

        Can you imagine the numbers a Fox/ESPN bid war for a 2026 World Cup might have generated? I guess we never will…because all that is gone, now.

        Shockingly bad future business…to cover for what was already shockingly bad past business. At least they’re consistent.

      • The “bad business” here was the award of the tournament to Qatar (and the insistence on keeping it there)

        But this is actually the strategically correct move, even if it is expensive…

        What would you recommend as “good business”? (other than taking 2022 away from Qatar, which is a cop-out answer)

        Waiting around for a massive global company news machine to take you apart in the courtroom and the press because you sold them a “bait and switch”?

        Sure, you might make an extra few hundred million if you wait around and try to create an auction situation with ESPN etc…. but you’d probably be belly-up by the time that auction rolled around.

        They kept Fox happy and that will go along way toward making 2022 happen.

      • Yeah. Don’t forget that FOX is a division of 21st Century Fox which has Sky and STAR in addition to all of the other American assets. FIFA wanted no part of that fight.

  12. shady.. so awarding the 2026 WC tv deal was a backhanded deal to offset another (much bigger) backhanded deal. ESPN got screwed. the World is getting played by FIFA.

    if Sepp is still in charge after all of this.. idk FIFA needs to be disbanded.

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    • ya.. no playoffs that year? or just have everything wrapped up by the end of October?

      or just say screw it and run the playoffs during the Qatar WC, which will never be considered a real WC.

      Reply
  13. Really really really interested to see what happens, and how fox will schedule the World Cup around college football and nfl. Wc may be relegated to fox sports 1 and 2

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    • Not sure what the matchtimes will be, but it may be there is very little conflict at all, given the time difference.

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      • If we go by the Brazil schedule, the late game (8:00 pm) will be around the 1:00 NFL kickoff. If they play the games even later than that, as they are talking about, it becomes a scheduling nightmare for FOX.

    • Well, were you dragooned in, had your contract ripped up in front of you, your passport confiscated, and then basically held at gunpoint to work for slave wages? ‘Cause that’s what’s going on in Qatar.

      I dunno why that doesn’t bother people more. There was a point in history we fought wars over slavery and stuff like that mattered to folks. Now we hold World Cups in stadiums that aren’t even built yet and that we KNOW are going to be built by slave labor…and it’s all good. As long as FOX gets paid, I guess.

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    • Well, wether you work free or below cost is your choice: chances are, when you do work, you’re not risking your life owing to fatal, onsite accidents that have already claimed the lives of a significant number of the Bangladeshi/Indian/Sri Lankan/ Filipino construction workers.

      Reply
  14. How about instead of complaining about a winter World Cup and moving it to the US, how about we re-focus our energy on Qatar’s slave practices and kafala system? Pressure sponsors, instead of pressuring the mule that is FIFA. People are dying while we complain about “scheduling conflicts” of our favorite leagues. What’s done is done, and FIFA is not going to change it.

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  15. Fox: “screw you FIFA, we signed up for a summer tournament. Our lawyers will be paying you a visit, more specifically, setting up residence outside your offices.”

    Seppy: “how about the TV rights to 2026 too? Same price?”

    Fox: “Lawyers, get the F*** out! ”

    Shameful.

    Reply
  16. My two favorite sporting events are the Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament and the World Cup. My mind might explode if they occur at the same time! I assume they will not conflict with the Winter Games but who knows? Broadcasts from Qatar to Kazakhstan (or Beijing), I’ll get no sleep.

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  17. I assume this means all the slave laborer ES building the stadia and infrastructure will also only be forced to work in the winter months?

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  18. What a joke. It was awarded to Qatar with bribes. They claimed they’d be able to keep field temp down. Good bids got passed over. Now they are changing the schedule, and jacking many leagues in the process…pitiful.

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  19. LOL. There’s going to be a winter world cup in Qatar and t’s going to be awesome like all the other world cups. Stop being sodramatic

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  20. Oh No, soccer leagues that are run by multi-billionaires only have seven years to adjust to a scheduling change that will most likely only happen once.

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      • You are correct. Some folks will be contrarian and vilify the domestic leagues and their “billion-dollar owners”, but turn a blind eye to a corrupt FIFA and the human rights injustices occurring presently in Qatar to ensure they have the infrastructure to support a World Cup.

  21. And THIS is why FOX received no-bid rights to the 2026 cup. While soccer isn’t the most popular sport in the U.S., our TV rights are by far the richest. FIFA knows that FOX will lose a TON of money by shifting World Cup games to cable (no way on earth they will move college or NFL games).

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    • They certainly made a massive enemy out of ESPN/ABC/Disney with this move, and cost themselves a boatload of money in the process. Who KNOWS what kind of revenue a 2026 World Cup – which could well BE IN THE USA – would have generated? The mind boggles…and they passed on it, to try to gloss over a crappy corrupt decision that never should have stuck. Leaves me shaking my head, how inept FIFA is.

      Surely somebody can unseat these clowns.

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  22. Wait until it’s formally announced and watch the EPL, La Liga, and the Bundesliga all announce that they won’t change their schedules and release their players for a Winter World Cup.

    What’s FIFA going to do then? They can threaten, but if the top leagues call their bluff, can FIFA really risk the top leagues forming a rival “FIFA”?

    Time to stock up on popcorn.

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    • The FIFA rules on player release are crystaline.

      Since when is ordinary club play given primary priority. I’d rather see the World Cup.

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      • No, I just think that each little World Cup is a bigger deal than yet another annual edition of league/ cup/ regional tournaments. I’m sorry but USA vs. Germany with advancement on the table is more interesting to me than the first of two slaughters, err, games between Man City and Burnley or whatever. This would have no effect on the current MLS schedule and it only matters to people who want to protect certain big dollar leagues from any change, even though their neighbors like Scotland and Germany routinely survive the same sort of winter breaks that will allow this to happen.

        My response: what makes a few contiguous weeks of EPL so darned important? They push it up into April or back into July some years. But somehow winter is sacrosanct.

        If the leagues are so special they can do what MLS did and play through without the callups. But they won’t because the whole point is the respect I suggested for the Big Deal Tournament is there and will be given.

      • Even if we put all the shady circumstance, horrid working conditions, etc aside and just focus on the impact this will have on leagues around the world there are still major ramifications here.

        You asked what makes a few contiguous weeks of EPL so important. In a vacuum, nothing. But by placing a two month tournament in the middle of the season for a slew of leagues it puts the top players under quite a bit of physical stress. It will have an effect on at least 2 years worth of league play (as leagues will have to start earlier/end later) and could effectively have some of the top players going full throttle for 24 straight months. That’s a lot to expect of them and I don’t think it would surprise many folks if the trickle down effect lead to a rise in serious injuries. These guys are human, just like the rest of us (only slightly more athletic) and need some downtime.

        Schedules are cluttered enough in a WC year, this only exacerbates the issue. Just my two cents though…

      • The clubs invest more money in the sport than FIFA does.

        The clubs pay the players exponentially more than their national teams do.

        The clubs have already forced FIFA and the national FAs to accept that they must pay recompense if a player gets injured while on national team duty.

        FIFA really has absolutely no leverage here; they rule because the clubs allow their rule.

        And to be clear, this isn’t about desire, or lack thereof, to see the World Cup, this is about Blatter pushing “a bridge too far”.

        IMO, this decision by FIFA, if it happens, makes USA 2022 that much more likely.

      • No, the clubs do not have all the power here. Try to break from FIFA and the clubs and players will be permanently banned from every other competition and league. The only threat to FIFA is if ALL of the European clubs broke away. But that kind of consensus is almost impossible.

      • Nope, just 6 European clubs need to break away to cause change. Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Chelsea. A World Cup without Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Hazard, Bale, Aguero, Di Maria, Gotze, Muller, Suarez, Rodriguez, and tons more stars would be a huge dent.

      • The members accepted Qatar’s bid and decided to award them the world cup. Get over it or don’t watch it. Nobody will notice.

      • Members accepted the bid after shady proceedings that may have included bribes. Lets not act as if this was a fair process. And lets not forget the humanitarian issues and thousands of immigrant workers whom will die just so Qatar and their oil money can host a world cup.

      • Is oil money worse than regular money? How exactly do you know that said oil money wants to host the WC? Are we sure that oil money even likes soccer?

      • A cursory viewing goes along way: look at how Emirates & Etihad Airlines, as well as the Qatar Foundation have splashed out multi-millions for long-term sponsorship deals of the highest profile clubs in Europe.

        Also, look no further than the ownership of MCFC/NYFC–which brings home the point that, yeah, oil money really likes soccer.

      • I’m decently sure that Stephen’s comments were a bit tongue-in-cheek. Hopefully, the oil money itself has no opinion. If not, I for one welcome our new currency overlords.

      • Especially those people who have been dying building their precious stadiums right Fred? Anyone supporting this crap is heartless

      • Funny but the last two World Cups have been held in the Southern Hemispheric winter, ie, our summer. As has probably every South American World Cup. Holding it in the winter probably has climate positives, Brazil wasn’t as hot as it could have been, where the USA was blazing.

        The implication seems to be that routine club play that goes on and on year after year takes precedence over the quadrennial big show. I’d think it’s the opposite, ordinary soccer games can schedule around the occasionally held biggest soccer tournament of them all. Even for summer tournaments the schedules sometimes get fudged. There is a routine beef about how MLS and other summer leagues conflict. It’s basically a sub rosa argument for traditional scheduling even though traditional scheduling sometimes has to accomodate World Cups held early or late in summer by bumping the season forwards or backwards.

        I didn’t know the traditional schedule was the most important value in soccer.

        That being said, this is a way of saving face rather than admitting they corruptly awarded the tournament to an obviously hot place. But there is no traction towards removing the tournament so moving it to a reasonable time of the year is the sensible thing to do.

      • Those club teams have money to make, and their schedules to worry about. And not only that, but it screws over some TV networks big time

      • I don’t think most major soccer nations have a problem with this so-called TV conflict, whatever soccer is on will be the primary show in town. It will just air in some different months one year. You really think fewer English people watch EPL or World Cup because the time of the year changes?

        I just can’t imagine fewer people attend games or watch TV games just because a traditional schedule adjusts in serious soccer nations.

        This might impact the USA TV with football and such but we are shock and dismay a secondary market. The whole point here is soccer is not the only show in town. FIFA just offset it by unilaterally handing Fox another tournament.

        I buy the papering over corruption or messing with standard tournament cycles arguments more than I buy this will actually hurt the business of club soccer. And I also think that, while perhaps naive about the politics and corruption of international soccer, I want it favored over pure money club ball.

      • When FIFA wants to share the billions of $$ they make on the World Cup and pay the vast majority of the players salaries, then they can change the WC dates on a whim and hold it in Antarctica for all I care. However, as it is the players are discovered, developed and paid by the clubs that have to shift there schedules around to suit a tournament held every 4 years, that really does not benefit the clubs or those leagues.

      • Personally I’ve come around with allowing the World Cup being hosted on a different date since its unfair to say that the so called global sport isn’t allowed in certain places.

        But the problem I do have and the reason I likely won’t watch the Qatar WC along with Russia is the way they were awarded and how everything surrounding those two nations are shrugged of by FIFA.

    • This is small potatoes next to the worker deaths that FIFA has explicitly stated they’re not responsible for. I have a good 7 years to gear myself up for it, but I really think I won’t watch it. I love soccer, and I love watching the USMNT, but I won’t watch.

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      • bloggers, for a minute, think about the people of Nepal. The minimum wage in Nepal is like 45 cents an hour. Mexico is 60 cents an hour, Nepal is 45.

        Death rates among migrant workers is even higher in other countries around the Middle East. Th real truth might just be that wages and conditions are better in qatar than they are in Saudi arabia, or some other emerites. So when you talk about boycotting, like that makes any sense, just think about this.

        You wanna make a statement in the world of international football, you win. Winning speaks loudest over all else.

      • So, to make a statement, I need to win or the US needs to? How would the US winning make a statement regarding the plight of these foreign workers who have their passports confiscated when they arrive? And just because the number of deaths are lower, doesn’t excuse the deaths that occur to create those stadiums. So, given that I can’t win the world cup, I’ll not watch it and I’ll not support sponsors of it.

      • Sydney, you can’t win a World Cup, but the country you support can, and I think to do so, they need your support.

      • I’m 45 and out of shape. I don’t think I’m going to be winning anything. Watch if you want to. Right now, I don’t want to.

      • TomC, you are reasonable. Don’t you think a lot of Americans are just crying sour grapes over not winning the world cup bid? I mean, if USA won the bid, who of these people who are decrying a winning Qatari bid now, would even be calling for better working conditions for migrant workers in some far off land.

        The real truth might just be that a qatar World Cup will help bring a lot of these Feudal systems into the 21 st century.

        The honest question I would have for all the American fans calling for a boycott, is do you even care if your country qualifies, if you will not be watching? I like to call this the Bart Conor complex.

      • Sorry brother, but that is absolute rubbish. The ONLY language FIFA speaks is $$$$. Going all in into a corrupt endeavor they benefit from only helps ensure its success and perpetuates business as usual. The ONLY way to initiate change is to hit them where it hurts- the pocketbook. Widespread attention to: Indentured servitude, worker deaths, graft, bribes, oppression based on religious, sexual, racial and witholding ones money from the event and making sponsors know you will withold money from them is the only way to gain attention. The only true way wehave influence is where we spend. You vote every time and where you spend.

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