UT Sports | July 17: FIFA confirmed the match schedule for the Qatar World Cup two days ago and the countdown for one of the World’s biggest sporting event begins. With the event at Qatar set to be the first ever World Cup to be held in winter months, here are five facts that you probably didn’t to know about the upcoming world Cup.
Qatar 2020 is not the first ever Winter World Cup!
On paper, this World Cup is being named the first ever winter World Cup as it is set to be played in the winter months of November and December. However, in essence, the first ever Winter World Cup was played in South Africa 10 years ago (World Cup 2010). That year, thenarrative had more of its focus on South Africa being the first ever African country to host the World Cup but the tournament was played in the winter months of countries in the Southern Hemisphere (June and July).
Rescheduling Domestic and Continental Leagues
League seasons throughout the world usually starts from August and ends in May leaving the two months window of June and July for transfer windows and International tournaments. However, since summer months in Qatar are scorching hot and FIFA just can’t put the risk of hundreds of players and thousands of fans getting heat strokes, the tournament has been moved to the winter months.
And so, while it might not be the first ever Winter World Cup, it will indeed the first World Cup that has forced a number of Domestic as well as Continental leagues to reschedule.
Smallest Hosts for the Shortest World Cup
With a population of 2.83 million and an area of just over 11,000 square kilometres, Qatar will become the smallest ever nation to host the world cup – both in terms of population and geographical area. The proximity of the various host stadiums is so compact that the longest distance between two stadiums is 55km and the shortest, just 5 km. For football fans, this will come as a big boon as they can watch a historic three world cup game in a single day! (Given that Group stage matches don’t kick off simultaneously and there is an hour lay off before another kick off)
The tournament, which is set to kick off on 21st November and end on 18th December (28 days) will also be the shortest ever in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
Indian Time Friendly Kick Offs
One huge bugger for Indian football fans when it comes to the World Cup are the odd kick off hours. While football is good, late midnight to early morning kick offs often tend to keep Indian fans away from the telly as fans adjust their work life balance.
The 2022 Qatar world cup, however, will be Indian football fans’ dream come true as kick off starts as early as 3:30 in the afternoon. Most of the group stage matches have been scheduled for 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm with a few games set for 00:30 am kick offs. The later stages of the tournament (Round of 16, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals) sees the schedule move to the late 00:30 am kick offs but the timing reverts back to prime time 8:30 pm kick offs for the third place showdown and the Final.
Another mid season Hiatus
The 2019-20 season became one of the first football seasons in modern football that had to be halted mid-season due to the outbreak of the pandemic Covid19. While this was a forced break lasting roughly 2-3 months across different countries, the 2022 world cup is set lead toa manufactured hiatus on domestic leagues.
With the plan for the 2022 Qatar World Cup set in stone, the 2022-23 domestic leagueseasons are also set to have a month long hiatus from November to December. These two months are usually the months when clubs are in the thick of action and league tables start to shape up. To aid this, the majority of the European domestic leagues have already made plans on kicking off their season one week earlier. However, the impact of the month long hiatus on club football does seem to lean more on the negative side rather than the positive side going into the World Cup.