Following up on the FIFA Task Force of 3 November 2014, ECA (representing European Football clubs) and EPFL (representing European Professional Football Leagues) decided to develop a common proposal regarding the period during which the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar could take place. It is proposed that the May 2022 period (May option) is the most appropriate period to host the World Cup in Qatar in alternative to June-July. The reasons are set out in this memo.
World Cup period: Thursday 5 May until Saturday 4 June
The World Cup would start on Thursday 5 May and the final would take place on Saturday 4 June. This would limit the number of World Cup games in June to two or even one (in case it is decided that the match for the third place is removed). The release period would be conform Annex 1 of the FIFA Regulations on Status and Transfer of Players, ie. as from Monday 25 April.
The May option is the best alternative to the traditional June-July timing, since it retains the logical calendar order and avoids compressing such an important competition as the World Cup in the middle of the traditional and busy club Football season (winter season). As such, simply avoiding this concentration makes the May option by far less intrusive compared to all winter proposals.
The May 2022 option provides acceptable climatic conditions with regard to both players and fans. In May the average temperature in Qatar as of 18.00h (local time) is between 30-35°C (source: Meteosuisse) and the WBGT index would be ‘green’ for most World Cup games (see attached schedule). In worst case, games would be played in circumstances similar to some cities in Brazil during the FIFA 2014 World Cup (Fortaleza, Manaus) and still better than some games played at the World Cups In Mexico (1986) and USA (1994). Moreover, with the support of the cooling systems that the Qatar Local Organising Committee committed to, temperature in the stadiums would be perfect.
Unlike in the winter options, the May option prevents players, especially the top players, from competing in an over-stretched season whereby they would be forced to having two consecutive season peaks of high importance, being the World Cup (winter) and the domestic/European competitions (May/June). On the other side, all clubs, as well as players not called up for the World Cup in winter will have to bridge a period without competitive games of at least seven weeks before continuing the rest of the season.
Impact on the international calendar (see attached calendar)
The impact on the international calendar with a World Cup in May would be extremely limited or insignificant. All confederation tournaments in 2021 (Gold Cup) and 2023 (Asian Cup, CAN, Copa Am?rica, Gold Cup) could take place as planned, just like the 2021 and 2022 Club World Cup editions. Only one international double date (March 2022) would have to be removed or at least replaced. The impact on European club Football (UEFA Champions League and Europa League) would be limited as well, whereby only some minor adjustments to the competition format are needed.
Impact on domestic Football in 2021/22 season
Just like any other winter option on the table, there would be a direct impact on the domestic Football season in almost every country. Most domestic competitions organised in a winter season format (July-June) would have to start one or two weeks earlier and shorten the mid-season winter break. The May option, however, avoids a brutal split of the domestic season and would still foresee a potential maximum of 39 weekend and 14 mid-week match dates, after scheduling the national team windows and the continental club competitions (eg. UEFA Champions League and Europa League). Consequently, some additional measures might need to be taken in order to fit the domestic competitions in the shortened and compressed season, such as the simplification of the domestic cup format.
The Ramadan period would be finished (2 May) before the arrival of the fans in Qatar. More importantly, the Eid holidays would allow local population to attend games and give a boost to the World Cup atmosphere. There would be no impact on the organisation, given the importance of an event such as the World Cup. Moreover, the Qatar local Organising Committee committed to the best tournament ever at any time of the year.
The arguments pro and contra the May option can be summarised as follows:
+ Keep the traditional season order
+ No impact on Confederation tournaments
+ No impact on FIFA Club World Cup
+ Limited impact on UEFA Club competitions
+ No clash with Winter Olympic Games
+ No clash with Ramadan
– One international double date to be removed/replaced (March 2022)
– Impact on Domestic Football due to shortened season