How will football squeeze the World Cup in November-December?

The race to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has now begun with an ongoing qualifying campaign around the world. Next Thursday, April 1, marks the 600-day countdown to the start of the tournament on November 21, 2022, and the period between promises will be strenuous and congested for many of the world’s top players.

Although the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has placed unprecedented demands on players due to the congested nature of this season, the burden is unlikely to increase until the weeks and months leading up to Qatar 2022.

– UEFA World Cup qualifiers at ESPN +: Stream LIVE games, replays (USA)
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Major leagues, national associations and continental confederations have yet to agree on a calendar that will allow the 2022-23 club season to include a six-week suspension for the World Cup, while the pandemic effect has created uncertainty over the appearance of clubs embarking on lucrative pre-season tours in summer 2022. But no matter how the key issues are resolved, the men in the middle will be the main players expected to play in domestic leagues and cups, European competitions and international matches.

One thing is for sure, the 2022 World Cup, due to the schedule from November to December, will have a huge impact on football in the years to come. So what can players and fans expect?

Why does Qatar 2022 have such an impact on the calendar?

When Qatar was declared the winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup, it was awarded on the basis of a tournament held in June and July, as well as for each previous tournament. But concerns over falling summer temperatures in the Middle East, which stood at 41.2 degrees Celsius (106.2 Fahrenheit) in June, prompted FIFA to move the World Cup to November-December.

That decision immediately created a major problem for the club game, especially in Europe, as the season is traditionally played from August to May. The last two months of the year have been a hectic time with a lot of home games and group schedules in the Champions League and Europa League.

While Qatar 2022 runs from November 21 to December 18, 2022, a club game faces an exclusion of at least six weeks – a week before the tournament to prepare and a week after to recover players – so the 2022-23 season must be somehow reconfigure so that the club match and the World Cup can be concluded as easily as possible. But the ripple effect of dropping the World Cup in the middle of the club season will affect both the start and end dates of the 2022-23 season and potentially the start of the 2023-24 campaign.

What will the workload of players look like from now until the World Cup?

Players have different requirements in different leagues, but the main stars can expect to play between 55-60 games a season if their club is successful. And then you have international ranks. In 2019-20, according to Transfermarkt, Manchester United captain Harry Maguire played more minutes than any other player in the world, scoring 5,509 minutes in 61 games for the club and the state last season. FC Copenhagen defender Victor Nelsson came in second with 5,366 minutes.

United reached the semi-finals in three competitions last season, which helped Maguire make so many appearances, but with Manchester City and Bayern Munich also also regularly involved in all competitions, the top players were able to play more than 100 games for the club and the state. between now and the start of the World Cup. But then he will have to play in the tournament – the peak of the careers of many players – and return to the second half of the 2022-23 season. And if you play for a team like Bayern, United or City, players can expect a trip to Asia or North America in the summer of 2022 for a pre-season tour, which will only increase playing time.

So, what are the solutions?

If there are solutions, rival factions – FIFA, clubs, national associations, continental confederations – have yet to agree on them.

The obvious answer would be to simply start the 2022-23 club season in early August and extend it until early June, giving clubs extra time to play their schedule and overcome the impact of a 4 to 6 week break in November and December.

But UEFA has already scheduled the 2023 Champions League final for May 27 in Munich, a day earlier than the date for the 2022 final in St. Petersburg, so there are not many signs that UEFA is extending its season to allow for World Cup-induced interruptions. UEFA will also lose two days of the Champions League / Europa League match of the World Cup, so when will they be set? We are still waiting for an answer.

As for the national leagues, sources told ESPN that discussions are still about the start and end dates, but while it seems easy to push into European preparations in a shorter period of time than has been done this season, it would not resolve the problem of finding space for 4-6 weeks of league games that should be moved to the World Cup

Did the pandemic add to the problem?

Yes. Qualifying for the CONMEBOL World Cup in South America began last October, but the full round of qualifying was postponed this month due to travel restrictions that forced European-based players to stay with their clubs. Such matches are likely to be played next season, and the delayed Copa America is expected this summer, a year after it was postponed due to a pandemic.

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In Europe, Euro 2020 is also due to take place this June and July, so what was supposed to be a free summer for players will now be occupied with two main tournaments, plus the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which will include major countries like Germany, France, Spain , Argentina and Brazil. The pandemic and the delay in hosting the Euros, Cups and the Olympics have hit the revenue streams of top clubs, which will miss the summer tours that spin money for the second year in a row, a financial need to cash in next summer.

Thus, the impact on the 2021-22 season. It’s still unknown, but any switch from this campaign will inevitably add to the congestion and demands of next year.

What do clubs think?

Sources from a number of prominent clubs told ESPN that scheduling the 2022 World Cup is useless and an inconvenience, but something they have no choice but to accept. However, sources also said that the clubs will keep the players until the latest possible departure date for Qatar, potentially using them for league matches just a week before the start of the World Cup. Similarly, players could return to club action just days after the end of the World Cup, which could be a challenge for players reaching the semi-finals and finals.

International coaches often have the advantage of long-term big tournament creation, with prep camps and friendly matches, but that probably won’t happen in 2022. Expect clubs to insist that the World Cup fits their demands, and more than the other way around.

The European Club Association (ECA), which includes Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Manchester United, Liverpool and other major teams, originally invited FIFA to set up the tournament in April-May 2022 before a decision was made on transition to November-December. Having lost that battle, clubs and UEFA blocked attempts by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to increase Qatar to 2022 with 48 teams out of 32, to avoid further games for their players.

Will football adopt Arsene Wenger’s plan for a single calendar?

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said it makes sense to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the winter months, but acknowledged it would have an impact on the schedule of European leagues.

Arsene Wenger, a former Arsenal manager, is now head of FIFA’s global development and recently proposed a revision of the football calendar that would have a single season from March to November.

“I am convinced that to harmonize the world calendar someone has to give in and that is Europe or the rest of the world,” Wenger said. “That would simplify things.”

In an ideal world the problem would be solved by the simplicity of Wenger’s plan, but arguably the biggest reason to move Qatar 2022 to November-December was the summer climate, and the same would apply to many leagues in Europe, with heat in Spain, France, Greece and Russia making impossible to play club matches. This would be a similar problem in large parts of Africa and Asia.

The plan would also stipulate that teams in the southern hemisphere must play in severe winter conditions, so the proposal falls on the issue of climate. Thus, moving the football season from March to November would not solve Qatar’s 2022 problem, even though it could be imposed in such a short period of time.

Does anyone think about player requirements?

Leading players are getting louder in a series of problems, but so far there have been no concerns about the load from now until Qatar 2022. Players tend to want to play, but coaches are often the ones talking about demands to be placed in their squad.

Earlier this season, England manager Gareth Southgate said the issue of the football calendar around Qatar had not been resolved, but called on coaches to contribute.

“I hope that the coaches will be consulted in all discussions,” Southgate said. “It doesn’t have to be me, but maybe the coaches of big clubs, maybe all the national managers, whatever they are. But generally speaking, many decisions are made without the investment of the coaches.”

So when will we get a confirmed football map to Qatar 2022?

It is still an unanswered question. The challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably shifted the focus from the need to plan a calendar before Qatar 2022, but sources said the resolution is likely only later this year, until the 2021-22 season.

But it is safe to say that the next two years will be fresher than ever for the world’s top footballers.

Qatar has been a controversial host choice from the start, so what will 2022 be like?

FIFA has changed the selection procedure for the World Cups since 2010, when the hosts of the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 were decided, with the vote of Russia and the successful offers of Qatar, which got stuck in accusations of corruption. Now every football country can vote for a potential host of future tournaments, not for the 22 members of the FIFA Executive Board.

But in addition to the controversy over moving the tournament from its usual place in June and July in the calendar, Qatar is also under the microscope to treat migrant workers who have helped build many new stadiums in the country since 2010. according to a report released by the Guardian last month, more than 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar during that time.

Homosexuality is an illegal crime in Qatar that can be punishable by imprisonment, and the human rights record of the Gulf state has been widely condemned, while Norwegian players wore T-shirts with the slogan “Human Rights on and off the field” before Wednesday. World Cup Qualifiers against Gibraltar.

Asked about Qatar’s position on homosexuality by ESPN in 2019, Hassan al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Heritage for Qatar 2022, said: “We are a conservative people and we ask visitors to appreciate our culture while in at the same time accepting our hospitality.Open displays of affection are not part of our culture and we demand that people do not [openly display affection]. “

Qatar’s international control will only increase as the tournament approaches and is likely to overshadow the host country during the event itself like no other World Cup before it.

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