The criticism of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been plentiful, and understandably so. Hosting the world’s most popular footballing event in a country that endures heat levels capable of causing fatalities is a ridiculous notion, and the solution that FIFA have come up with is hardly an acceptable one.
It has recently been announced that football’s premier tournament will be held in winter for the first time since its conception, meaning a number of other competitions will be have to be moved around and rescheduled in order to accommodate it.
With the 2022 World Cup set to take place across November and December, the Premier League will obviously suffer. The festive period is usually the busiest part of the season for most clubs, but a huge number of matches will obviously have to be postponed.
FA chairman Greg Dyke and Premier League chief Richard Scudamore have insisted that they will do everything they can to protect the Christmas fixtures, but this would mean little to no break between the end of the World Cup and the resumption of the Premier League.
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We have witnessed first hand the fatigue caused by the competition, with players like Per Mertesacker returning to the club exhausted after victory in Brazil.
And it’s not just physical exertion either, as the tournament can take a huge amount out of you mentally as well. A disappointing World Cup campaign could leave players starved of confidence, while a successful one could result in a lack of motivation.
Mesut Özil appeared to suffer after Germany’s success in the World Cup, and looked to be lacking the competitive drive and edge required to compete on his return. He didn’t get that edge back until his lengthy injury layoff, which seemed to rejuvenate him somewhat and restored his desire to compete.
Of course, these players may not feature in 2022, but they are just examples – we have already seen how players are affected by fatigue at a World Cup after a gruelling club campaign, but an international competition in the middle of a domestic season will almost certainly have an adverse effect on the remainder of the clubs’ season.
Not all players will suffer obviously, as players who are not involved with their national sides will instead get a winter break. This will put teams at the top of the table at a huge disadvantage, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and us all having squads made up predominantly of international players – an issue teams at the bottom of the league won’t have to contend with.
It’s difficult to see how a winter World Cup will benefit us in any shape or form, but it seems we have to get used to the idea.