Will England be playing in a 'Winter World Cup' come 2022?
Through the entire furore that Sepp Blatter has created with his obsetious comments about homosexuality in Qatar, a very important message was missed – Sepp Blatter has given his backing to host the tournament during the winter months after Qatar won the 2022 bid.
This is primarily due to the intense heat during the summer months for the Middle East country. Traditionally the tournament has taken normally taken place between June and July, but in Qatar the heat at this time can reach up to 50c.
Former World Cup winning captain and coach of the German side Franz Beckenbauer had previously raised concerns over the health risk posed by extreme temperatures.
Qatar were shock winners to host the 2022 World Cup and the decision was met with open disapproval. This issue is sure to raise more criticism.
Many will ask if the issue was raised during the bidding process and if so, was it overlooked?
Qatar did indeed mention the climate but pushed it to the background, dismissing it as a non-issue.
The idea was to build air-conditioned stadiums, and the proposal of a 'Winter World Cup' was never raised.
The question now asked must surely be: Did Qatar give misleading information during their bid or were the bidding committee aware of the implications all along?
If the committee were aware of the health and safety risk posed to players, this would only add further fuel to the fire that money played a part in the bidding process. Whispers of corruption have surrounded the bidding process; dismissed as bitterness on England's part due to losing the 2018 bid.
It should be noted here that England's free media was said to have cost the World Cup bid. Fundamentally FIFA did not award England the tournament because they do not like being investigated, but that's a point for another time.
Although there are no regulations that say the World Cup has to be played during the summer months, the potential disruption to the domestic leagues a Winter World Cup could cause are staggering.
Many top players and managers, including Sir Alex Ferguson, have called for a winter break in the past to help England in their World Cup chances, but news of a potential Winter World Cup would be met with anger.
Top clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal would have required to release their players for up to 7 weeks to allow them participation in the tournament.
Upon their return they would be thrown into the deep end of the season with Champions League knockout stages and FA Cup latter stages.
It would also have a knock-on effect, as players would potentially only have 4 weeks to recuperate during the summer months before having to begin pre-season training.
Sponsorship for tournaments such as the Champions League would suffer from having a Winter World Cup, having to have a two-month gap between the group stages and the knockout stages. Then there would be a major sporting clash with the 2022 Winter Olympics which receives a healthy TV following.
Other questions were raised over the Qatar bid, such as the carbon footprint left by the proposed air-conditioned stadiums, and the laws that the country enforces.
FIFA also stated that it was bringing football to a country where it could make a social and cultural impact. Qatar, and Australia who were vying for the bid too, have never hosted the World Cup. Qatar has a population of 1.7 million. Australia – 22.6 million. Football (soccer) is on the rise in Australia, becoming more popular.
If FIFA wanted to make a social and cultural impact, certainly Australia was the better option?
As it stands, the impression given by FIFA's actions is that the bid was granted to Qatar with a view of making all the pieces fall into place after the acceptance. It's understandable that many Football fans are calling for the withdrawal of our national team.
As one German newspaper said, World Cup 2022 could be Qatarstrophic.