FIFA has decided that the 2022 World Cup will be held in the tiny nation of Qatar and in an unprecedented move has decided to move the tournament from its traditional June/July schedule to November/December. This move has been forced because of Qatar’s oppressive summer heat, which can be as high as 110°F. Rather than addressing this problem in the infancy of the country’s bid, FIFA’s system of bid corruption took hold and awarded a country smaller in size and population than Connecticut the biggest sporting event in the world. With Sepp Blatter’s capitulation to the Emir of Qatar complete, critics are beginning to see the multitude of flaws in the plan.
While FIFA officials are suggesting that the switch will only be a minor inconvenience, domestic league around the world are up in arms because of the serious effects it will have on their traditional schedules. One benefit of moving the tournament to a later start date is that these White Elephant facilities will likely be completed with time to spare. The downside of it is that Qatar will complete these facilities using a labor force of foreign laborers that are exploited with meager living conditions, dangerous work environments, and wages that fall below any reasonable standard. Last year, one Nepalese migrant worker died every two days on construction projects in the country, and that figure doesn’t include workers from other foreign countries.
Work conditions within the country show no signs of improving, despite a vow from the Qatari government to improve treatment of workers in the “kafala.” The “kafala” system, which would be known simply as slavery in past decades, tenures foreign workers to their employers for the duration of their contract, regardless of humanitarian conditions. If this conflict with Western culture isn’t enough, the tournament will also feature restrictions of alcohol consumption, speech, and attire. Having the tournament in a nation of just over 2.1 million will almost certainly suck in comparison to recent edition in Brazil. Here are ten reasons, FIFA’s corruption will result in a diminished global product in 2022.
10 Tacit Acceptance of FIFA Corruption
John Oliver had a fantastic takedown of football’s governing body on his HBO show on Last Week Tonight prior to the World Cup in Brazil. He addressed the bid corruption and inner conflict he felt supporting a fantastic sporting event organized by a greedy bureaucratic monolith at the expense of forgoing critical infrastructure improvements in Brazil. This feeling is only going to increase in intensity and popularity as the world approaches a joyous event being held in an oppressive nation. The tacit acceptance of FIFA’s corruption and their ugly bedfellows is only going to grow with the next two World Cups being held in true bastions of liberty and freedom, Qatar and Russia.
9 Confederations Cup is Still a Mess
The Confederations Cup is a second-tier international tournament that is traditionally used to iron out the wrinkles and ensure that all facilities are in working condition. FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke announced this week that the 2021 Confederations Cup will not be played in Qatar, and will instead be held in another “Asian” country, according to CBC. Newly constructed facilities in the country will not have the opportunity to match test stadiums in the traditional atmosphere. On top of that, the host nation of a tournament is still undecided and there will be less time for the necessary preparation to take place.
8 Fan Travel Will be Affected
Part of what made the fantastic environment for matches in Brazil was that fans traveled from around the world to celebrate their teams in a desirable location. Travel is especially common in the early summer months when the tournament occurs, with little chance of adverse weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. Qatar only has three airports and fans entering the country will represent a significant percentage of the population when they are in the country. The limits of Qatari accommodation and infrastructure will surely be tested, but will they pass?
7 Television Rights Lose Value
The television rights for the 2022 World Cup have already been purchased and paid for by the conglomerates in charge of distributing it to the masses. However, a winter World Cup means far lower television viewership in North America, where it will now be forced to compete with the NFL, NBA, and MLB. To compensate for this expected loss in viewership for FOX, who had earlier acquired the rights to the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, FIFA granted the 2026 World Cup to Fox to avoid a potential lawsuit, according to The New York Times.
6 Forces Domestic League Breaks
The world’s most popular and storied football leagues will be severely affected by mandatory breaks that must take place to host a November World Cup. The English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League will all be affected by the schedule change, which will halt play for a minimum of one month. The vast majority of players in these competitions will not be affected, but players from elite clubs will be forced to travel and train far more than they're accustomed to.
5 Clubs Will Lose Revenue
Jerome Valcke has said that with seven years to organize the international and domestic schedule around the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, clubs will not be compensated for revenue lost during the tournament. While many of the largest clubs will only be slightly affected, smaller clubs could suffer potentially catastrophic effects from a decrease in revenue. With financial fair play regulations sweeping UEFA, clubs are constantly driven to drive revenue as high as possible. The money lost by clubs due to the tournament will be an expense passed down to fans through higher ticket and merchandise prices.
4 Qatar Will Still be Hot
In spite of moving the tournament to November/December, temperatures in Qatar will still be hotter than many of the temperatures recorded in Brazil. The average temperature in November in Qatar ranges between 65°F and89°F, but temperatures could reach as high as 100°F. On November 14th, 2013, the temperature in Doha reached 104°F, meaning climate control may still be a concern for FIFA officials. At these temperatures, cooling breaks for the players must be mandated, but potential danger for fans also exists.
3 Watch Parties in the Northern Hemisphere Will Suck
Last year, cities across the United States saw fans gather in public places to support the USMNT as they played in Brazil. Outdoor scenes were increasingly common, with gatherings taking place from Pittsburgh to Chicago and beyond. This raucous scenes of support are unlikely if weather conditions do not cooperate and November can be bitterly cold in many Northern locations. While being crammed into a bar does have its own appeal, it doesn’t have the widespread inclusive nature that these gatherings foster.
2 Elite Clubs Suffer
Elite football clubs typically attempt to acquire professional players that are also considered among the best in their respective countries. Whether they view this international football as a chore or privilege, the best players in the world are constantly vying to represent their countries. The world’s greatest clubs like Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Barcelona collect international talents from around the globe and clubs of their ilk will be the most severely affected by the schedule change.
1 Players Lose Rest Days
Early in the 2014-15 season, many players that participated in the World Cup in Brazil showed the detrimental effects of spending a summer playing top tier football. Typically a rest period is necessary following major tournaments and this would not be possible with a 2022 November World Cup. Players would be expected to return to their club teams and carry on play without question. These athletes are already facing extraordinary demands in the traditional tournament structure, but FIFA has promised to reduce the tournament length to minimize effects on clubs. This means players will receive fewer rest days during the tournament, which could lead to higher injury risks.