In the 134 years since league soccer began in England, the European game has never scheduled such a disrupted season. FIFA’s determination to move the Football World Cup in Qatar from the normal offseason months to November and December to evade the desert heat will slice into the European national season in a way not seen outside of international ordeals like war or pandemics.
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As a result, the unusual 2022-23 European season has had to start early, will cram in more midweek games and end with the Champions League final on June 10 the latest planned date since the inaugural European Cup final was on June 13, 1956.
It will also force the domestic leagues to have lengthy midseason breaks, from six weeks in the English Premier League to a 10-week shutdown in Germany’s Bundesliga and three months in Austria, where the World Cup extends the country’s usual winter break.
Closing for peak commercial weeks is the compromise reluctantly accepted by European leagues and clubs in 2015. Then, FIFA inevitably shifted its marquee event out of the usual June-July slot that is part of soccer’s global rhythm. It would have been a blistering Football World Cup for 32 teams, nearly three million fans in stadiums and the tens of thousands of staff, volunteers, and media that a major tournament need.
So, the need to alter the schedule was obvious even in 2010 when the FIFA executive committee now widely discredited by corruption scandals voted for Qatar to host the first World Cup in the Middle East. Now, tournament temperatures should settle around 80-90 F at game times, with no kickoffs before 6 p.m. when the third round of group games start Nov. 29.
Still, it is a shorter Football World Cup that must cram in 64 games in just 28 days, four days fewer than in 2018. That was forced on FIFA by European leagues refusing to give up a valuable extra weekend in November. Most European clubs will play on the Nov. 12-13 stay just eight days before the Football World Cup starts.
To make that work, Football World Cup organizers had to schedule four games per day instead of three for the first two group-stage rounds. That gives viewers a television marathon and players the bare minimum of three days’ rest between matches. A team drawn in Group G or H at the Football World Cup such as Brazil and Portugal must play seven matches in just 25 days to win it all. Although they at least get extra days to make in training camp.
The Netherlands opens the tournament against Senegal on Nov. 21 setting up a tight schedule for its players based in England, like Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk. And it comes after a compacted Champions League schedule, with all six group rounds in the competition to be played between Sept. 6 and Nov. 2 to finish the group stage five weeks earlier than usual. The global players’ union FIFPRO sees risks in these extra demands.
“The increased fixture congestion caused as a result of the various competition organizers’ failure to adequately collaborate is not helpful for safeguarding player health and performance,” FIFPRO said in a statement to the Associated Press. The season-long congestion comes after the COVID-19 pandemic almost stopped the 2019-20 campaign. It was salvaged by a two-games-per-week workload that is now routine.
“The long sequences of consecutive back-to-back matches that have been prevalent among players at the top level of the game must be minimized and ultimately prevented,” FIFPRO supposed.
European soccer, still recovering from the pandemic, has lost high-value commercial weeks in November and December because of the rescheduling, with more games instead played during the less lucrative summer months.
“Selling rates for subscriptions for pay-tv are lower in the summer,” Jacco Swart, managing director of the 30-nation European Leagues group, told the AP. He also noted that August is vacation time in much of southern Europe so stadium attendance could be lower.
Serie A president Lorenzo Casini cautioned last month that an Aug. 13 start is difficult in the hot temperatures. In Italy and Spain, top-tier games will not start before 5 p.m. until September. That rules out lunchtime kickoffs suited to broadcasters in Asia.
Italy has an extra problem, like Austria and Turkey, with no top-tier domestic games to compensate for failing to qualify for the Football World Cup. Among the challenges, there are opportunities for leagues like England’s second-tier Championship. It restarts on Dec. 10 with back-to-back weekends facing no competition from Premier League fixtures. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers tickets for the Qatar Football World Cup at the best prices. Football fanatics and buy Football World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
Football World Cup: Top 5 tourism attractions opening in Qatar before Qatar World Cup
Before the Football World Cup kicks off in November, an assortment of exceptional new tourism developments will open across the country. From a winter-sun wonderland to a water sports paradise, these developments each add something special to the peninsula’s eclectic mix of attractions and activities to suit every type of traveler.
One year after Qatar re-opened its borders to the world on 12 July 2021, Qatar Tourism reveals the latest attractions that will build on the extensive tourism development strategy of the last few years. Qatar aims to capitalize on the influx of over one million visitors expected for the Football World Cup and show the world its hidden treasures and unmissable holiday potential.
Chief Operating Officer of Qatar Tourism, Berthold Trenkel, supposed: “The countdown to the World Cup is well underway and there’s lots of world-class attractions to come before the matches begin. Amongst the buzz around the tournament itself we hope people are wowed by Qatar’s state-of-the-art new tourism developments, significantly boosting the country’s appeal as a leading holiday destination. There are new beaches for those looking for sun, sea and sand, theme parks and water sports hotels for the adventurous, and lots of new resorts, spas and restaurants for visitors seeking a more relaxing getaway.”
Situated near Lusail City just north of Qatar’s capital, the upcoming 200,000-square meter attraction will be operated by IMG International Marketing Group, the same company that manages Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park each year.
Fuwairit Kite Beach (FKB)
FKB is an upcoming state-of-the-art kite beach resort in Fuwairit. Fuwairit is a coastal village an easy hour drive north of Doha with excellent kitesurfing conditions thanks to consistent winds, ideal ocean water and powder-soft sands. The resort is designed around the kitesurfer’s lifestyle with everything you need for the water and even more when you are out of it. There will be a yoga studio, fully equipped gym, restaurants, pool and much more.
The Outpost Al Barari
The Outpost will be the first of its kind in Qatar, integrating close-to-nature experiences, sustainability, and luxury hospitality into one beautiful resort in the globally unique Inland Sea nature reserve.
Qetaifan Island North
Billed as the first Entertainment Island in Qatar, Qetaifan Island North will feature floating hotels, beach clubs and a water park with 36 rides including The Icon Tower zone, featuring an 85-metre-high slide set to become the highest of its kind in the world. Set over 1.3 million square meters, the island is close to the Lusail Stadium, where the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will take place.
West Bay North Beach Project
West Bay North Beach is an extensive new tourism development being constructed, covering 40,000 square meters of a premium beachfront in the heart of Doha. The public and private beach areas will offer three distinct beach experiences with a wide variety of food and beverage offerings, to create a sought-after city beach experience for everyone to enjoy.
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