Breaking Down the Potential Impact of a Winter World Cup

qatar-2022The continued discussions within FIFA of a Winter World Cup has increased the likelihood of the tournament’s timing in 2022. The latest announcements of support from FIFA President Sepp Blatter and UEFA President Michael Platini have set the tone. The challenges ahead are gaining the support of the Premier League and leagues around the world. As the head of UEFA, Platini’s comments target the top European leagues, primarily Barclays Premier League (England), Ligue 1 (France), Serie A (Italy), Liga BBVA (Spain) and the Bundesliga (Germany).

The shift in the tournament’s timing has a reach far beyond Qatar impacting not only league matches but cups held within each nation. The current FIFA International Match Calendar has been drafted through 2018 and FIFA has not publicly made available a draft calendar of how a November/December or January tournament would appear.

There has been a hope by FIFA that Major League Soccer (MLS) would shift its season to the winter to align with the FIFA international calendar. Yet to release an official statement, MLS and Commissioner Don Garber may stand to the gain the most if the tournament is moved to the Winter. It would be the first World Cup year that the regular season would remain uninterrupted, including the league’s All-Star Game that features international opponents. More so, players would be coming off the regular season and playoffs in terms of fitness and form, while allowing them to separately focus on training with their respective national teams after the season.

Ironic is the timing that Garber expects the league to expand to 24 clubs by 2020 and be among world soccer elite by 2022.

The challenges that lie ahead include proposing a new timing for national and continental tournaments, and whether or not that is a matter or pushing forward those events after or adjusting the timing leading up to the World Cup. Additionally to be considered is the impact on traveling supporters. In 2010, the United States had the highest number of tickets purchased by a nation other than the host – more than 130,000 of the 2.8 million tickets were purchased by residents of the United States. The summer is traditionally the time frame for vacations and extended trips, such as the World Cup. Both November/December and January tournaments will provide additional challenges for supporters.

The FIFA Executive Committee is expected to meet October 3-4 to formally make a decision. Based on comment’s made and expectations set by Blatter, the graphic design team at FIFA will need to update the 2022 World Cup’s preliminary logo – to 2023.

How do you think the major European leagues will respond to the shift in the World Cup’s timing? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Reporting on the business side of the world's game.