Winter wonderland World Cup: FIFA move Qatar 2022 from summer

2010 World Cup opening ceremony

Football's biggest tournament is set to interrupt the domestic seasons of many countries by being held between November and January.

For the first time in history, the World Cup is officially being scheduled as a winter event.

That is the spectacular admission of FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, who has completely ruled out hosting the Qatar 2022 World Cup in the summer.

Ever since the tournament was controversially awarded to the Middle Eastern nation, there has been fierce debate over the ability to host it in the usual June and July months. 

And now that option has been completely removed by football's governing body.

"The dates for the World Cup (in Qatar) will not be June-July," Valcke told Radio France.

"To be honest, I think it will be held between 15 November and 15 January at the latest."

The possibility of Christmas World Cup fixtures is somewhat uncanny to say the least, but is now a very real likelihood given Valcke's admission.

Many had expressed concern that players could take to the pitch in the extreme heat of Qatar at that time of year, while visiting fans would likely be exposed to the conditions for much longer.

It has led to increased criticism of the Qatar selection, with competitors for the World Cup bid arguing that it will impact their own competitions, and that if they had known the tournament could have been moved to winter they would not have entered the running.

It has also seen advanced technological remedies to the summer heat mooted, such as artificial clouds hovering over training grounds and stadiums, as organisers still hoped to host the competition in the usual months. 

But recently FIFA president Sepp Blatter had said that the tournament would likely be moved, and that a firm decision on dates would be made by the end of the 2014.

And now Valcke has shed some light on the kind of periods FIFA are considering for the Qatar event: "If you play between 15 November and the end of December that's the time when the weather conditions are best, when you can play in temperatures equivalent to a warm spring season in Europe, averaging 25 degrees.

"That would be perfect for playing football."

If the tournament was to head into January 2023 it would clash with the Africa Cup of Nations, which is already scheduled for that time.

And it would of course impact the European football seasons, with England particularly affected given the absence of a winter break in the calendar.

Teams with African players may also lose anyone that has qualified for both the World Cup and ACN from November to the end of February, and if the African tournament is moved to accommodate FIFA's showpiece it could be even longer.

It means that a logistical nightmare could be on the agenda for FIFA, UEFA and all the other governing bodies in the game.

Still, they do have eight years to get it right. Even FIFA should manage to come up with some semblance of a solution in that time.

image: © Shine 2010 - 2010 World Cup good news

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch