FIFA don’t need to move the Qatar World Cup to the winter, we just need to play it at night


http:// Malyon thinks that rather than widescale disruption and lawsuits, FIFA should see sense and just push back kick-off times

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It is fair to say that the rights and (principally) wrongs of awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar have been done to death.

The real issue is how to make the best of a bad situation now that we are lumbered with this bitter taste in our mouths and a World Cup in Qatar.

The day after the decision was made, Martin Lipton wrote in the Daily Mirror that FIFA would have to evaluate changing the tournament to the winter due to the scorching temperatures.

That it even took this long for people to realise that it would be seriously bloody hot in the desert in July is altogether more worrying, but it seemed the only alternative with temperatures regularly breaking 100 degrees fahrenheit (40 celsius).

Yet this could be the most expensive mistake FIFA make.

Shifting the planet’s footballing showpiece to January completely undermines the bidding process in regards to when the tournament is set to take place.

With that in mind, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) have revealed they will sue for the costs incurred in mounting their unsuccessful bid for the 2022 tournament if it is indeed moved.

FFA chief Frank Lowy has said that “changing the dates is tantamount to changing the rules after the contest is over,” and vowed to reclaim Aussie taxpayers’ money that was wasted under what his federation believe to be false pretences.

There is also the not insignificant fear of a lawsuit from sponsors, affiliates and – in particular – broadcasters who paid huge amounts of money to be associated with a tournament that by tradition, and virtually definition, is a summer competition.

Fox unloaded $1billion (£630m) on the television rights for the USA in a joint deal with Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo – an amount that is far, far above what they would have paid had they known the tournament coincided with the NFL season.

And it is this which brings our biggest hope of the World Cup staying in the summer, and not therefore affecting three surrounding football seasons for leagues all over the world.

Why? Because as we have seen numerous times from FIFA – they don’t listen to the football fans nor common sense.

No, only the sway afforded by ten-digit investments would even register on the radar of the self-interested bigwigs.

But if the tournament must be held in the summer then surely we are back to square one?

Well, not quite.

An idea which, rather surprisingly hasn’t really surfaced as an alternative despite making all the sense in the world – or at least as much sense as a World Cup in Qatar can.

Play it at night.

Breathtakingly simple, but also sane.

Average temperatures at midnight are nearly half that of the daily high during the summer, the time difference would make it perfectly acceptable for viewing audiences in Europe and the Americas and, best of all, there is no need for widescale disruption to the majority of the world’s domestic leagues.

Temperatures of 25-30 degrees celsius are the norm for summer football tournaments and are far safer than some of the conditions played in when the World Cup was in Mexico in 1970 or the USA in 1994.

Sponsors would no longer be having their noses put out of joint, fears over player safety would be calmed and a high proportion of the planet’s TV audiences would be able to tune in at a convenient time.

The only drawback would appear to be for local fans, and considering that, on average, only 8,161 fans decided to turn out for games during the 2011 AFC Asian Cup when hosts Qatar weren’t playing – you get the feeling that even they might not be too concerned.

Simply put, despite getting the blessing of UEFA – which should not be confused with having the consensus of Europe’s top clubs – the idea of a winter tournament is still riddled with problems.

If Qatar is to host the World Cup then it doesn’t need to be in the winter, just late at night, a common-sense solution to a potentially billion-dollar problem.

With this being FIFA though, the very presence of common sense is likely to rule any idea out of the running.

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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