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Qatar 2022 and a winter of discontent

FIFA General Secretary, Jerome Valcke, has confirmed that moving the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the winter has not been discounted as an option. Due to the baking hot temperatures in the Middle East emirate, playing a football competition at the traditional time of year could be dangerous for both players and fans.

It’s reignited the fury against FIFA surrounding the decision made in 2010 – on the same day awarding Russia the 2018 competition.

Moving the competition to winter may be the only choice for FIFA. There’s no saying that players could refuse to compete due to the risk of dehydration.

Without wanting to guilt trip anybody, considering the shocking collapse of Fabrice Muamba last year and the tragic death of Marc Vivien-Foe in 2003 – should FIFA really by allowing a situation to occur that puts players at higher risk of system malfunctions.

Those collapses weren’t due to extreme heat, but the crippling climatic conditions may well pose a threat to footballers carrying any weaknesses of which they were unaware before the tournament – particularly considering the pressure of a World Cup being added to the mix.

 

What are the benefits of Qatar hosting the tournament?

Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of benefits that will come from allowing Qatar to host the tournament. Unfortunately, they’re all to do with FIFA’s treasure chest and nothing to do with what’s best for players or fans.

We’re already seeing Sheikhs from the emirates pumping cash into top European clubs as well as their own local teams. Allowing Qatar to host the tournament is intended to stoke oil-rich billionaires into throwing more money at the sport. The truth is the region has nowhere near the passion for football as its counterparts in other continents.

The argument of ‘promoting football’ in the Middle East doesn’t really hold up in court. It’s a sport with mass appeal and investors have started to invest heavily in local football. Qatari fans can come to football first if they want it – no one else needed to host a World Cup to generate support.

For political reasons, the best footballing countries in the Middle East, Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia can’t even make a bid without being laughed at. Japan and South Korea did a splendid job of hosting the 2002 tournament. The difference being, that the two countries already had a football infrastructure in place and passionate support from the masses.

The same is not true of the Middle East. Sheikhs churning money into football is a marketing ploy to carry on attracting Western tourists and investors to the emirates. If there was a true love of football in the region, why have we never seen players from the region prosper?

It’s a typical example of FIFA directors knowing full well that as the support has such mass appeal, they can do whatever the hell they like. The decision makers would prefer to bring in new fans and investors over giving the people who already love the sport the best experience possible.

Moving the tournament to winter is the only choice and it will greatly disrupt seasons in Europe, South America and Africa. The question is why the hell should it? These are continents with embedded football cultures that have built the sport to become what it is today. The truth of the matter is money talks.

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