Europe starts football season ahead of Qatar World Cup’s winter disruption

From the Premier League to the Bundesliga and the Ligue 1, the European football season is kicking off throughout the continent. However, European elite football faces a uniquely disrupted season this year as the controversial Qatar World Cup unfolds in winter.

134 years have passed since the first professional football league started in England. Since then, competitions have been suspended in times of war, while the pandemic halted some of Europe’s top leagues. But tragic international events aside, players and fans alike have never dealt with such an upset season.

FIFA’s decision to schedule the Qatar World Cup in winter is already pushing the 2022-23 European season to an early start. But the season is heading to an unusually late finish all the same. Indeed, the Champions League final will crown Real Madrid’s successor on June 10. The World Cup will also disturb the calendar by forcing domestic leagues to plan lengthy mid-season breaks. The English Premier League will be on a standstill for six weeks, while Germany’s Bundesliga contemplates shutting down for ten weeks.

Still, the European Leagues managed to claim an extra weekend in November. Most European clubs will face off on the November 12-13 weekend, a mere eight days before the world’s most prestigious football competition begins. As a result, the will be four days shorter than its predecessors. And the tournament’s organizers need to cram in 64 games in the 28 days leading to the big final on December 18.

To make this tight schedule work, the first two group-stage rounds will play out in four games per day instead of three. Some teams will therefore lack the requisite three days’ rest between matches. Others might face a daunting seven-game winning strike in only 25 days to make it to the final victory. And for top players competing in the Champions League, the workload gets worse. All six group stages will stretch out between September 6 and November 2, putting group rounds to a five-week earlier close than usual.

The worldwide union for professional players has raised the alarm. In a statement to the Associated Press, FIFPRO voices feared the competition’s toll on “player health and performance.” They advocated for the current prevalent consecutive back-to-back matches to be minimised, if not “ultimately prevented.”

Top-level players have been vocal, too. Former Bayern Munich star and fresh FC Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski scolded “too many big games.” He added players were no machines and could not continuously “play at the highest level of performance.”

Still, FIFA could not help but organize the Qatar World Cup in winter because of the host country’s scorching summer heat. The Africa Cup had already paved the way with a switch to winter from 2021 onward. However, the competition’s schedule was far from the only concern among fans and football authorities. The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar alone gave rise to controversies amid several allegations of bribery and corruption.

Prominent voices have also stated their scepticism over human rights issues. In an open letter readable on, the FIFPRO denounced poor working conditions and the “abusive practices” subjected to vulnerable migrants. Climate activists were as quick to condemn the fully air-conditioned Qatar stadiums.

Meanwhile, visiting supporters were warned of the strict restrictions they had to abide by throughout the competition. While alcoholic drinks will be available at specific fan zones, Qatar stadiums are set to be alcohol-free. Additionally, the country announced a sex ban on unmarried couples.

As per Qatar’s observance of Islamic law, other activities like sports betting will be out of the question. However, online platforms like allow Arabic punters to venture into betting territory. Trusted gambling sites provide an extra level of security and anonymity to MENA players. They offer comprehensive and up-to-date guidelines for every country. Thus, Arabic players can enjoy competitive odds on many sports and even top-notch casino games.

Addressing some issues, the Qatar authorities announced a tolerance policy over LGBTQ+ flags within its stadiums while complying with FIFA’s human rights recommendations. And the excitement is growing across the world nonetheless, even peaking as global pop stars BTS will compose the World Cup official song. So, football fans will undoubtedly stay tuned in November and December.

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