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Let's Just Play Through The World Cup
A few people have now made the point that leagues would have to adapt to accommodate a winter World Cup in Qatar in 2022. But is that really the case?
At present, I'm not aware of any European league that closes down for the duration of e.g. the African Cup of Nations - clubs have to do without national team players which causes occasional club v country clashes (Freddy Kanoute being one relatively recent example). Although a World Cup would have a much more dramatic impact across all European leagues, it remains a possibility that league football would continue alongside the World Cup and players would have to choose between club and country.
As such we would either see a weakened national side in the World Cup, or a weakened club side in the league - I can imagine that clubs (and Sky) would apply a great deal of pressure to keep the best players playing club football, which would then hamstring a number of high profile nations. The natural impact of this would be that the smaller nations, whose players are less likely to feature in the higher echelons of the various leagues, are more likely to be able to field a full-strength squad and that may improve their chances of going deep into the tournament.
What I am trying to get to in a roundabout way is, (tinfoil hat alert), FIFA will ensure that the tournament goes ahead in the winter, Sky will ensure that league football continues uninterrupted, clubs will ensure the best players don't turn up for the national sides, and as such Qatar are going to win the World Cup in 2022.
You heard it here first.
Terry Hall, Switzerland
...Firstly, I found Paul, Ireland's view that a winter World Cup would disrupt the Champions League a bit odd, given that we are now slap bang in the middle of, er, a 10 week winter break from the Champions League. Anyway, my main point is that a winter tournament could lead to a very entertaining Premier League, if rugby union's example is followed. When international tournaments are on (World Cups or Six Nations), the league just gets on with it. As a result, all the big clubs like Leicester lose their big international stars for a few weeks, with the effect that smaller clubs stand a much better chance in these fixtures than they normally would, with their usual starting XV going up against the squad players and kids of the big boys. For instance, Liverpool comfortably beat Hull in their last league game, but in this scenario Liverpool would probably have been missing 60-70% of their matchday squad, and Hull maybe only 10-20%.
It would of course lead to some entertaining/infuriating moments when Alex Ferguson, in his second stint at United, claimed that all of his players were injured for the world cup, only for them to play through the entire period.
...I've thought about it, looked at it again, and though about it once more and can't really see an issue with teams just playing on through when the World Cup is on.
A team could probably lose up to about 10 players maximum to world cup qualifying squads, and that's just the better teams in the league. I get that teams are going to be missing their best players for a couple of months, but so what....it'll certainly make the league more interesting, the smaller teams will be more evenly matched with the big guns, and that summer's transfer window will be a tactical affair, getting in players who might not be included in their international squads.
What am I missing?
Another Winter World Cup Fan
I have to say, the arrogance displayed in Wednesday afternoon's mailbox re the World Cup was overwhelming.
I agree that Qatar shouldn't have said they could hold the World Cup in the summer if they couldn't (although I doubt they said anything... they simply wheeled in a barrow of notes, whispered "I'll leave you guys to do some thinking", and sauntered out the room).
However, getting annoyed because it'll disrupt YOUR season is staggeringly egocentric. What about all the other countries who've had their seasons disrupted for (every 4) years? Do their seasons not matter? Probably not, rofl, because you haven't even heard of most of their players!!! They're all probably part-time plumbers anyway, who'd go mad for the chance to play on the world stage, regardless of whether it completely f*cks with their league!
I actually think the status quo has gone on far too long. We should have made provision for a winter world cup (every 4) years ago. It's a world cup, not the Euros, and the world should be accommodated, rather than represent some weird forcing of one continent's values onto those of everyone else. It's 2013, Empire's no longer cool, other countries have people who don't like being inconvenienced either, honestly! If we can rotate the continent, we can rotate the season too, surely?
But This Man Says 'Boycott It'
I've read the mail from Paul, Ireland stating that major countries should boycott this 2022 world cup, and I agree. But I'd just like to mention something here. If these "major countries" go ahead and declare they are boycotting this world cup on the grounds of it's disruption to their domestic competitions. They are missing a golden opportunity here. At the very least their stand should be against the corruption of FIFA, but even that wouldn't be enough.
Imagine for a second if the football associations of countries like Brazil, Germany, Italy, France, England and so on all get together and make a stand against this tournament on the basis of the horrible working conditions and slavery of the people working on the stadiums and facilities for the world cup. Everyone heard or read about it. I'd bet there isn't one person currently working in a major football association that does not know what the situation is in Qatar right now. People are being forced to work for no money as they're passports have been taken away from them, in conditions that trade union organisations have warned would cause the deaths of around 4,000 people by 2022. No one can pretend it's not happening, and no one is doing a thing about it. Presumably FIFA know this is happening and just don't care, for obvious reasons.
The sight of these kind of countries making an effort to stop this would not only be amazing, but would have a huge affect on the football world, and in fact far beyond that. It would send a message that these kinds of things cannot be tolerated anymore in the name of entertainment. That a unified front can make a difference. FIFA wouldn't dare having a world cup without it's major competitors and would have to stop this. Just imagine that, for a second. The power of football, used for good this one time.
I realize how unlikely this is. There's no point in mailing responses to say "This would never happen". I know. But if a boycott on the 2022 World Cup is called, for any reason, it would be a good thing. Not just for football.
Am I the only one who thinks having the World Cup final on Christmas day would be amazing!?
Finally something worth watching on the tellybox.
A Summer Premier League?
In response to Paul, Ireland and his mail on the effects of a winter World Cup, at the 2010 World Cup just under 1 in 5 players came from leagues that operate a summer centred season. Given the continued strengthening of summer leagues such as the Brasileiro, the MLS, the J League and the Russian Premier League (now winter centred but with a 3 month winter break), this figure will be likely be higher again this year and increase into the future. As such it is only fair that winter leagues take their turn to reorganise in 2022.
This leads me on to my main point. One of the few good decisions the FAI ever made was to switch the League of Ireland to a summer season in 2003. It turns out that in a part of the world where the sun sets at 4pm in the middle of winter, the game is actually better when it is played in better weather, with sunlight, and fewer storms. Maybe if England was forced to play league football in the summer, even if just for one year, it might awaken people to this.
There are two arguments that will always be made against such a move. Firstly that attendances will suffer due to the general distractions of summer and competition from other sports. The experience in Ireland is that attendances increased due to the move. This is despite the fact that it put football in direct competition with Gaelic Football and Hurling which are the best attended sports on the island and primarily played in summer.
Of course, the biggest objection to moving the English League to a summer season would be the break from tradition. But just because it is tradition, does not mean it is right. This is the same tradition that gives muddy pitches, high winds and dark cold nights. This might not be such a problem at the top level due to undersoil heating, massive floodlights, semi artificial grass, and repeated relaying of surfaces, but this will never be available at every level, so most footballers will learn their trade playing in bad conditions. Has anyone ever thought to make the connection between the agricultural style of football played in Northern Europe and the conditions we play in? It is surely more than a coincidence that the countries with a long tradition of playing in turgid conditions are the ones in which direct physical play has been preferred to technical skill.
For years people have wondered why the English seem incapable of playing the beautiful game in the same way as the Spanish, the Italians, the Brazilians and others. Never mind investment in youth, foreign players in our leagues, or whatever excuse is offered, perhaps the answer has been shining at us all along.
Neil (I had to work out that 1 in 5 figure myself, took ages), Mayo
On Big Sam
How's that Allardici business working out for you eh, Sam.
Chris (Schadenfreude is a wonderful thing) Nelson
...Fortunately I only had to walk a total of 6 miles from my house in the Manc rain unlike most of my fellow Hammers fans there tonight.
I've said it before but Fat Sam is a dinosaur who has ruined my club. If he had any self respect he'd have listened to our kind requests for him to go somewhere else.
...Scoff at Sam Allardici and his Hammers getting thumped all you want, but he has a rather cunning plan.
You see Man City now think they are in the land of milk and honey, they will put out a weakened team for the second led, at which point the Hammers will bludgeon the citizens into a bloody pulp. 7-0 to the Allardici, put money on it.
Tactical genius is Allardici.
Football and Wagner
In response to Ed Quoth the Raven and his search for a David Moyes opera analogy - can I suggest Wagner's Parsifal? In this opera Amfortas (Moyes) is so tortured by his loss of a magic spear and feelings of inadequacy as compared to his father Titurel (Ferguson) that he goes gradually insane and refuses to allow the grail knights to drink from the holy grail. Sadly for Utd fans looking for encouragement, this failure to see the holy grail goes on for years until such point as all the grail knights have grown old and Titurel dies; though at least at this point the hero of the story (Parsifal) reappears having won back the knights' spear, kills Amfortas (to his relief) and uncovers the grail to the knights.
Admittedly, there are some details rather central to the opera that I've glossed over to make the analogy half-work (unless David Moyes has been doing some very odd things indeed).
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London