Skip to content

The impact of moving a World Cup to winter

Never before has a FIFA World Cup caused so much controversy before the tournament has even taken place. The long-feared rumours of a winter World Cup in 2022 have been confirmed by Blatter, as FIFA announced that the tournament will start around the 21 November and finish on 18 December.

As well as being the first ever World Cup to be hosted by an Arab state, it will also represent the first ever northern hemisphere winter World Cup. Ever since the shock announcement in December 2010, governing bodies from many European countries have doubted the logistical validity of a winter World Cup in a country that is in its footballing infancy infrastructurally. So, to get a feeling for how a winter World Cup may unfold, we took a look at how European football would have changed the 2013-2014 season had the 2014 World Cup in Brazil happened in the winter.

Disregarding the extra time international sides would need to acclimatise and prepare before the tournament, and the time players would need to recuperate after it, it is staggering to consider the number of domestic league and cup fixtures in Europe would have to be rescheduled for a later date. Just in the top 5 leagues, their domestic cups and the european cups, 333 games that were scheduled from 21 November to 18 December would have to be rearranged.

It is not just football matches that will be affected by the World Cup either. TV broadcasters’ viewing figures will most likely be significantly lower compared to those from previous summer World Cups. Though all European eyes would be firmly set on the World Cup, the same cannot be said about US sports fans. As NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman explains, “it'll affect broadcasting in the U.S. The World Cup now will compete with the NFL and college football. And people will still watch the World Cup, but it won't create the same buzz as it would if it were essentially the only big event in June-July.”