FIFA’s impending decision to move the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to November-December will wreak havoc on Europe’s biggest professional leagues.
The leagues in England, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy run from August to May. So does the UEFA Champions League.
Assuming national teams will be granted at least three weeks of pre-tournament preparation, and players will be granted at least two weeks of post-tournament rest, these leagues could be suspended from late-October to mid-January.
In a statement on Tuesday, European Club Association chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge — who represents the world’s biggest clubs — demanded that FIFA compensate professional teams for the revenue lost during that period.
On Wednesday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said no way.
“There will be no compensation,” he told Reuters. “I mean they have seven years to reorganise football around the world for this World Cup. It’s not perfect, we know that — but why are we talking about compensation? It’s happening once, we’re not destroying football.”
Valcke pointed out that FIFA already has a fund to compensate clubs whose players put themselves at risk by playing in the World Cup. That fund totaled $US40 million in 2010 and $US75 million in 2014, Valcke said.
When it’s divided up among all the clubs, though, it’s not as impressive of a figure. Rummenigge said in 2012 that Bayern Munich was paid just $US73,000 by FIFA for Arjen Robben’s participation in the tournament. Robben got hurt at the 2010 World Cup and missed six months of Bayern’s season.
In addition to injury and fatigue concerns, reorganising domestic leagues on a new calendar will be more disruptive than Valcke suggests.
Seasons would start earlier, shrinking the transfer window and eliminating much of the rest and preparation period between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. Seasons would also have to end later, creating an abbreviated preseason going into the 2023-2024 campaign. Europe’s biggest leagues won’t get back on a normal schedule until 2024-25.
Sky Sports reports that 100 English Premier League games alone will have to be rescheduled.
The EPL torched FIFA in a statement on Tuesday:
“We are extremely disappointed with the FIFA Task Force recommendation to move the 2022 FIFA World Cup to a November and December schedule.
“It is clear that the views of the European leagues, along with the numerous other competitions globally that will be negatively affected, have not been given serious consideration throughout this process.
“The prevailing view from the leagues has been that displacing the 2022 World Cup significantly from the original summer dates disproportionately impacts the sporting integrity of our competitions.
“Our particular concern is that a FIFA World Cup that finishes late in December could result in damaging one of the English game’s great traditions and attractions, with the removal of the entire Premier League, Football League and FA Cup Christmas and New Year fixture programme that season.
“Clearly there is still time within the process to consider our position further, but first we will consult with our clubs, other stakeholders in English football, and other leagues before deciding on what, if any, further action might be appropriate or worthwhile.”
Qatar originally promised to hold the event in summer. That plan was abandoned amid concerns about the 105-degree heat in June and July.
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