How a winter World Cup in 2022 could affect the football calendar
Though the consultation process isn’t over yet, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told French radio on Wednesday that it would be “nonsense” to play football in Qatar during the traditional June and July dates.
Almost inevitably, the World Cup will take place during winter months and this will have a huge impact on the global football calendar. Opposition is being led by the English Premier League, which has warned of years of disruption.
While dates have yet to be formalised, here is a potential calendar that could be used for the 2022 season for the Premier League.
May 2022: European season ends as usual.
June: When the World Cup would usually be played, footballers will have the month off.
July: Champions League qualifiers as normal. There might have to be fewer qualifying entrants to cope with the earlier start.
Mid-July: Start of season for leading European leagues.
August 2-3: Champions League playoff round.
August 9-10: Champions League playoff round.
Mid-August: European transfer window closes.
Aug. 23-24: Champions League group stage begins.
Sept. 2: Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Sept. 6: Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Sept. 13-14: Champions League group matchday 2.
Sept. 20-21: Champions League group matchday 3.
Sept. 30: Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Oct. 4: Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Oct. 11-12: Champions League group matchday 4.
Oct. 18-19: Champions League group matchday 5.
Nov. 1-2: Champions League group matchday 6.
Nov. 4: Mandatory release of players two weeks before World Cup. There would be no need for the usual post-season rest period before the World Cup given the event falls in the middle of the season when they would usually be playing up to three times a week. There would be space for the usual World Cup warm-up games, which would take the place of the regular November international date.
Nov. 18: World Cup begins in Qatar.
Dec. 1: World Cup group stage ends. 368 of the 736 players exit.
Dec. 4: World Cup round of 16.
Dec. 6: World Cup round of 16 ends. 184 players exit.
Dec. 9: World Cup quarter-finals.
Dec. 10: World Cup quarter-finals. 92 players exit.
Dec. 13: World Cup semi-finals.
Dec. 14: World Cup semi-finals.
Dec. 17: World Cup 3rd-4th place. 46 players exit.
Dec. 18: World Cup final, which falls on Qatar National Day. The final 46 players exit the tournament.
Dec. 26: The Premier League could return to start its traditional packed Christmas fixture program. Other leagues could chose to resume later if they determine that players returning from the World Cup after reaching the final or third-place game need a longer break.
Mid to late June: European leagues end.
Aug. 2023: Premier League season starts as usual after a two-month break. In 2014, the Premier League season is starting just a month after the World Cup final in Brazil.
FIFA would have to rejig and curtail the format for the 2021 Confederations Cup so it can maintain a World Cup warm-up tournament, potentially splitting matches across existing international matchdays. The Club World Cup, which would usually be played in December, will also have to find a new place in the calendar in 2022.