In an unprecedented move, the Premier League season in 2022/23 will be halted for six weeks to allow for the World Cup in Qatar to be played. Due to the sweltering temperatures in the Middle Eastern country in the summer – the mercury can hit as high as 45˚C, the decision has been taken to move football’s flagship event to the winter. And, that means that the leading European leagues will be paused for more than a month to allow the action to unfold.
Premier League chiefs have decided that the weekend of November 12-13 will be the last round of games before the players jet off to Qatar, where the opening ceremony and first game is scheduled for November 21.
The 2022/23 campaign, which will start a week earlier than normal on August 6, would then return at the completion of the World Cup, with the traditional festive fixtures starting on Boxing Day slated for the resumption – for those involved in the final that would leave just eight days before they would need to kit up for their club side again. The season should then be done and dusted with the final round of games on May 28, 2023.
According to the itinerary as it stands, the Premier League campaign will also have its winter ‘break’ in February – a blank game week – for the second time after clubs voted to have one introduced for the 2019/20 season. The Championship will also take a break during the World Cup, although League One and Two will continue as normal.
Premier League Opposes Biennial World Cup Proposal
Perhaps a touch cheesed off with the upheaval, Premier League clubs have given the thumbs down to the potential of biennial World Cups. That was the brainchild of Arsene Wenger in his role of FIFA’s football development guru, who also wants to see longer international breaks introduced to allow for qualifying to be completed in fewer sittings – rather than being spread out throughout the year as is the case now.
Impossible for the World Cup to be Held Every Year
Representatives from the top flight’s 20 teams gathered in London yesterday to discuss the topic, and came to a quick consensus that it was simply impossible for the World Cup to be held every other year. A range of reasons were given, including the impact on player welfare of playing more high-profile games every other summer, as well as the disruption to pre-season preparations. The diminished ‘fan experience’ was also suggested. Speaking on their behalf, top-flight supremo, Richard Masters, said:
The Premier League is committed to preventing any radical changes to the post-2024 FIFA international match calendar that would adversely affect player welfare and threaten the competitiveness, calendar, structures and traditions of domestic football.
We are open to reforms and new ideas, but they must enhance the complementary balance between domestic and international football in order to improve the game at all levels. This process should also involve meaningful agreements with the leagues that provide the foundations for the game.”