As the tides of progress surge on, even Europe realizes its powerlessness in the face of Qatar's insistence on making the 2022 World Cup the first to be held in the winter, thus wrecking the domestic leagues' seasons. Our last hope for sanity to prevail—a defiant UEFA protecting its own highly-profitable tournaments—has failed.
With last week's announcement that FIFA was planning on officially recommending that a tournament that's always been held during the northern hemisphere's summer months suddenly be played in November and December, the absurdity of the whole situation still made the prospect vaguely unbelievable. Sure, the original concerns about the brutal heat typical of Qatari summers wasn't enough to strip them of the world's biggest sporting event, nor was widespread, proven instances of outright bribery during the process of awarding the World Cup to Qatar, nor even was the commission of slave labor to bring the tiny country's infrastructure up to a level that could accommodate the throngs of spectators sure to flock to the games. But with billions of dollars at stake in their own soccer tournaments, UEFA would have to offer some kind of resistance against the suspension of the Premier League and the Bundesliga et al, with all the concomitant problems sure to arise.
Instead, UEFA has basically said, "Eh, we don't like it, but what can we do?" The news out of yesterday's task force to decide what to officially recommend to FIFA in terms of when the 2022 World Cup should be held is not good. It appears that the European clubs have seen the writing on the wall. From the Guardian:
With European clubs increasingly resigned to a winter tournament, their focus is expected to shift to trying to secure concessions, including a shortened World Cup with a shorter preparation period and fewer international friendly dates in that calendar year.
If it has to happen a couple months into the season, might as well make it snappy. Who cares about what less training time does to the play on the pitch, or the injuries that will surely cascade due to the the shortened turnaround from match to match? At least whoever isn't gassed or gimpy can suit up for Boxing Day.
Sure enough, the result of yesterday's powwow was for all parties to basically agree to support the November-December schedule with only a few minor details to still be ironed out. All that's left of the negotiations seems to be how fast they can hop in and out of Qatar without causing too much disruption to regularly scheduled programing.
UEFA is behind the November-December window, and it's only the British contingent agitating for more compromise. The tentative schedule they've put together apparently has the World Cup final on December 23rd, which would run a little too close to Britain's traditional festive period. Snip another couple days out from between the rounds and maybe scoot it up about a week earlier, though, and the powers that be will all be in reluctant agreement.
It's still not official, and won't be until next month when FIFA's executive committee ratifies the recommendation, but let's not kid ourselves. The decision is made, the deal is done, the money spent. All that's left is for the rest to close their eyes, stick their hands out, and hope however much they end up with papers over this shambolic display.