This House would move the 2022 Football World Cup to the winter

Qatar was the surprise winners in December 2010 of FIFA’s vote to determine the hosts for the 2022 World Cup beating out competition from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia. In recent months, a lot of concerns have been raised about the temperatures in Qatar in summer, when the Cup is scheduled to take place. Fears that searing summer temperatures of more than 40C could pose a risk to the health of players and supporters convinced a lot of sporting officials to try and move the World Cup in winter, when the heat dips to an average of 20C. If this were to happen it would be for the first time in 92 years that the tournament has not been held in the summer. Qatari officials state that they are more than prepared to install air conditioning systems in the stadiums, but this may not be enough to make the games an enjoyable experience for the thousands of fans. 

Title 
Heat will damage player's health
Point 

In order to fully understand the implications of this motion, one must see what participating in the FIFA World Cup means to a football player.

First of all, it means an intense and sustained physical effort for a significant amount of time. Do not forget that the Cup itself lasts for a couple of weeks, and there are plenty of weeks of training before it in order to get the players in the best shape possible. This means they are exposed to a lot of physical stress and have to play or train no matter of the weather conditions or temperature.

Secondly, with temperatures ranging from 35C to 40C during the summer it would be torture to force the players to train and play in those conditions. Former France, Fulham, Manchester United and Everton striker Louis Saha told BBC Sport he thought it was impossible for players to handle the Middle Eastern country's extremely high summer temperatures. (1) "I was in Qatar recently and it was 48C," he said. "Believe me, it is impossible to have a proper game down there." It is not only the players who get hurt, but also the game itself, as you cannot expect the same show from fatigued, light-headed and exhausted players.

Most of all, FIFA’s top priority should always be the protection of player’s health, as, at the end of the day, despite money, show or spectators, no one should risk their life or be obliged to work in unsafe conditions. Studies show the immense risks of heat-related illnesses and their potentially deadly outcome.(2) Being aware of these issues, FIFA’s vice-president Jim Boyce, from Northern Ireland, is prepared to back a decision in principle to move the World Cup to the winter.(1)

(1) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

(2) Erik Brady “Heat-related illness still deadly problem for athletes”, USA Today, 8/15/2011 http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/2011-08-15-heat-stroke-still-causing-death-in-athletes_n.htm

Counterpoint 

Qatar’s successful bid to host the World Cup marked a historic moment for the country and brought huge responsibilities to the organizing committee. Qatar will be the first Arab nation to host this event, this meaning that they are under a lot of pressure to prove to the world that they have the necessary skills and capabilities to do this job. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they will not let anything derail this event, let alone something as easily to control as temperature. It promised revolutionary air-cooling technology to counter the summer heat in its bid; this has been reiterated in a statement that they are prepared to host the tournament at anytime.(1)

Moreover, the small country’s officials guaranteed that the system, which will harness the power of the sun's rays to provide a cool environment for players and fans by converting solar energy into electricity, will be able to reduce temperatures from 45 to 25 degrees Celsius. As a result, there should be no worries regarding this aspect, as the Qataris won’t risk anything to stain the image of this event in which they will invest about $200 billion(2).

Having analyzed the preparations which have been planned for this event, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore is adamant the 2022 World Cup should go ahead in Qatar in the summer.(3)

(1) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

(2) Nick Schwartz ” Qatar will spend $200 billion on the 2022 World Cup” , USA Today, July 9, 2011 http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/07/qatar-will-spend-200-billion-on-the-2022-world-cup/

(3)” Qatar World Cup: Richard Scudamore wants summer event” , BBC, 15 August 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/23719835

Title 
A sporting event in the heat of a desert summer will not be a pleasant experience for the fans
Point 

One of the most important parts of the game is the fans. They are the ones who watch the sport, they are the ones to which football owes its popularity. Not only are they the ones who pay for the sport they are also a vital part of any competition. Without the choreographies made by the supporters and the impressive cheering, football becomes nothing more than a silent, mediocre sport. As a result, we must take into consideration how well these hundreds of thousands of supporters from all over the world who will come to Qatar feel during the World Cup.

Let us not forget, that they will spend most of the time outside the stadia; on the streets, in the gruelling heat, or they will be forced indoors. Unfortunately, for many of them this experience will be overshadowed by the constant heat-caused discomfort when engaging in the kind of socialising and watching matches at outdoor screens that usually creates the atmosphere of the cup. It is even more worrying when you take into consideration the fact that supporters of all ages and health conditions come here, some of them will be exposing themselves to heat related risks. Heatstroke can potentially cause death. Taking this into consideration, UEFA’s 54 member associations have already backed a switch, while Europe's leading clubs have said they are "open" to the possibility of a winter World Cup in Qatar.(1)

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar must switch to winter, according to FIFA’s own medical chief. Michel D'Hooghe, the chairman of the FIFA’s medical committee, will advise that the risks posed to supporters by extreme heat are too great. "I am sure the Qataris have the technical skill to organise a tournament where teams could play and train in a stable, acceptable temperature, but it's about the fans. They will need to travel from venue to venue and I think it's not a good idea for them to do that in temperatures of 47C or more."(2)

(1) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

(2) “2022 World Cup in Qatar must be played in winter”, BBC,  16 September 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24114961

Counterpoint 

In its bid for hosting the World Cup, the  Qatar chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Al-Thani said the stadiums would have "zero carbon cooling equipment utilising solar technology to ensure the temperature is no higher than 27 degrees Celsius, ensuring optimum playing conditions and a comfortable environment for fans. This same environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral technology will ensure training sites, fan fest and fan zones are also cool and comfortable."(1)

This type of technology will ensure that the fans are protected from the intense summer heat at all times. It is true that they won’t spend most of the time in stadiums, but where they will spend most of the time are fan zones. In those areas bars, restaurants and shops will be installed, thus creating an environment where fans will be encouraged to spend large quantities of time.

It would be only reasonable to assume that in that $200 billion that Qatar will invest a significant part of it will be apportioned to assuring the well-being of the supporters. Even if the Qataris won’t be able to build artificial cooling-spots for everyone, the fans themselves will want to search for spots which will protect them from the sun, like hotels, pools or cafes.

As a result, due to the capacities of the organizers and the inner disposition of humans to shelter themselves from harmful environments, there are no reasons to worry about the health of the fans.

(1)” Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid Reveals New Stadium Plans and Cooling Technologies”, World Football Insider,  April 28, 2010 http://www.worldfootballinsider.com/Story.aspx?id=33206

Title 
Moving to the winter would benefit Qatar
Point 

There a lot of advantages for you as a country if you are selected to organize a World Cup, a European Cup or any kind of major sport event. They range from fame and international recognition to money and influence in the administrative bodies. Therefore, it is in Qatar’s interest that this event goes as smoothly as possible in order to prove its organizing capabilities and thus allowing them to increase its chance for hosting any kind of future sporting event.  By hosting the event in summer, Qatar is exposing itself a lot of unnecessary risk – and probable bad publicity.

The most obvious is someone getting injured or even worse, dying during the World Cup. This would be extremely problematic especially if we are talking about a football player participating in the event. It would not only stain Qatar’s image because it happened during the World Cup organized there, but it would also destroy any credibility that it has as an organiser of events after so many assurances that the heat will not be a problem.

Moreover if the cup were to be held in winter, some of the billions that would be used to build such complex systems of air conditioning could be used to serve other purposes. The Qataris could invest it in better publicity, more social campaigns such as discouraging racism in sports or many other areas. In that way, not only they would receive the recognition for being the organizers of the World Cup, but they would get extra credit from the international community for being involved in the social benefits of sports for example.

In conclusion, the Qataris do have the administrative support for a change of schedule, as even Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s President has recognised “After many discussions, deliberations and critical review of the entire matter, I came to the conclusion that playing the World Cup in the heat of Qatar's summer was simply not a responsible thing to do” and they should take advantage of this situation.

(1) Owen Gibson” World Cup 2022: Sepp Blatter paves way for winter tournament in Qatar” The Guardian, 3 October 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/oct/03/world-cup-2022-sepp-blatter-winter-qatar

Counterpoint 

It is clear that Qatar will get more recognition, fame and respect from the international community if it proves itself able to solve a range of problems which were considered to be too difficult for anyone to handle.

In the past, all the other countries that hosted the World Cup were engaged in all sorts of social campaigns designed to solve multiple problems, and the Qataris will be no exception. But if they want to set themselves apart from the others they must prove they are able to solve even more difficult problems, such as their ferocious heat. Once they manage to solve this by introducing state-of-the-yard technologies, they will differentiate themselves from previous hosts and receive more respect.

Another reason why Qataris will receive more respect is because they will open the road for organizing sporting events in places which were previously considered to be ineligible. They will be the ones who will spur the development of the technology necessary to ensure the optimal temperature for this event, a technology which could be used in the future. As a result, they won’t just be the first Arab country which organized the World Cup, but the nation which blazed a path to enable Arab countries to host major sporting events in the summer. 

Title 
Moving now would be unfair to the other bidders
Point 

Qatar beat bids from Australia, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan to win the right to stage the 2022 World Cup. Moving it to another date other than the one they all had to include in their bidding offers would be unfair towards the losers of that bidding process.

When submitting their bids to FIFA for hosting the World Cup, every nation has to consider a lot of factors in order to decide the budget, the venues, etc. One of the biggest and most important factors is of course the date of the World Cup. Each country had to take into consideration the events that happened in that respective time frame in their area, how long it would take to build the facilities, the organizing staff’s availability and many other factors. As a result others bidding offers would have been different if the event were to take place in winter, instead of summer. The FFA chairman, Frank Lowy broke cover to call on the world game's ruling body to promise that "just and fair compensation should be paid to those nations that invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event if the tournament is shifted to Qatar's winter".(1) As the race was extremely close, any change in the parameters that determined the winner could have a significant impact on the outcome of the race. Football League chairman Greg Clarke, who was part of England's 2018 bid delegation three years ago when Qatar won the vote for 2022, said “FIFA should run the vote again rather than switch the tournament to the winter”.(2)

Undoubtedly, it is fairness and equality that must be prioritized in deciding the winner of such a big event, which would bring a lot of social and economic benefits to the winner. As a result, there mustn’t be any room for error, but changing the date of the World Cup creates exactly such a problem and looks like favouritism.

(1) Owen Gibson “FIFA tells Australia to forget about £25m World Cup bid compensation” The Guardian, 17 September 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/sep/17/fifa-australia-world-cup-2022

(2) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

Counterpoint 

It is sad that all these bidders invested millions of dollars from taxpayer’s money in trying to create the most appealing bid for hosting the World Cup and they weren’t selected, but that constituted no reason to make unjustified demands.

In was clear from the very beginning that the date of the event wasn’t pinned down and there existed a possibility of changing it. A FIFA spokeswoman said "As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organising Committee."(1) Because every single one of the bidding countries knew about this possibility, they were all exposed to the same risks and thus they were all subjected to the same criteria. As a result, the bidding race was an equal and fair competition which the Qataris rightfully won.

(1) Owen Gibson “ FIFA tells Australia to forget about £25m World Cup bid compensation” The Guardian, 17 September 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/sep/17/fifa-australia-world-cup-2022

Title 
A winter cup would harm media revenue
Point 

At the beginning of each year, every media company, especially the big ones, try and make a plan to see which of the sporting events, they should cover in order to maximize their ratings. As the broadcasting rights of these types of events cost hundreds of millions of dollars, this is a very sensitive issue.

One of the most important factors when deciding which events to and not to broadcast is the date in which it takes place. Every media company wants to create a system in which it has continuity of sporting events in their grid, by televising competitions throughout the year, and not just in some periods. By doing this, the channel becomes known for its sports coverage resulting in increased ratings. 

This proposal of changing the World Cup date is at least problematic, as the televising-rights have already been sold.  American TV network Fox, which paid £265m for rights to 2018 and 2022(2) World Cup for North America, “is understood to be concerned over the commercial implications of any move that would see any clash with the NFL season, let alone the Super Bowl”.(1) James Murdoch, the son of 21st Century Fox Inc. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and other network executives told FIFA that “moving the competition by several months from its usual June start to the winter would clash with National Football League games”.(3)

Unfortunately for FIFA, this could create a precedent for future events, as there will always be doubt whether the date of the events will be changed or not after the televising rights are sold. This lack of trust will translate into a lower price which media companies are willing to pay for broadcasting FIFA’s competitions.  Because we are talking about huge amounts, it will have a harmful impact upon FIFA’s competitions beyond 2022.

 Let us not forget that FIFA is involved in campaigns against racism, discrimination and many others which help raise awareness and ameliorate a wide variety of problems. Therefore, a drop in funds will translate not only into worse football competitions, but also damage these campaigns which would likely be the first place for the cuts axe to fall.

(1) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

(2) Robin Scott-Elliot  “World Cup Q&A: How did the 2014 tournament in Qatar end up as a winter of discontent?”, Independent, 03 October 2013 http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/world-cup-qa-how-did-the-2014-tournament-in-qatar-end-up-as-a-winter-of-discontent-8857479.html

(3) Tariq Panja “Fox Said to Oppose FIFA Plan to Shift 2022 Soccer World Cup”, Bloomberg, Sep 17 2013 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-16/fox-said-to-oppose-fifa-plan-to-reschedule-2022-soccer-world-cup.html

Counterpoint 

It is true that the change of dates might constitute a problem for media companies, but there are a few points due to which this change wouldn’t be unfair towards them.

First of all, it was clear from the beginning that the dates could change and that the final decision belonged to the FIFA Organising Committee.  As a result, this risk should’ve been taken into consideration when deciding the offer.

Secondly, ratings are ratings. Media companies’ main concern is attracting more and more people to watch their program so that they can ask for higher prices for companies who want to advertise on their channel. As a result, it doesn’t matter that the World Cup takes place in winter or summer, as the broadcasters that are showing the world cup will have the same increase in ratings. They will still be drawing viewers from other channels so as far as they are concerned, the effects should be similar.

Finally, even if these highly unlikely harmful effects do exist, the normal response would be to renegotiate the broadcasting-rights with all the media channels and reorganize the auction. In that way, all the broadcasters could take into consideration the price they would pay for a winter World Cup and so they won’t be exposed to these downsides caused by the date change.

Title 
It would Interfere with other competitions
Point 

One of the biggest downsides that this shift of dates would have is the creation of a clash if schedules all around the sports world, fuelling tensions and controversies. No matter in which month the Cup would be played, purposeless conflicts would emerge from this.

Among other potential conflicts if the organizers decide to move it in winter, this being the most endorsed proposal, then there could be a conflict with the Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee has warned FIFA against creating a clash with that year's Olympic Winter Games.(1) It would be only in FIFA’s advantage to maintain an open and respectful relation with the IOC. Such a move would create some tensions which could be detrimental for the world of sports.

If, however, the officials decide to move it in anytime during the year, this would create conflicts with the national championships. This could have a tremendous impact upon them, as the World Cup is a long competition. If you add the pre-preparations and the exhaustion that players feel at the end of it, you realize of its impact upon national championships.

This is very important as it will create purposeless conflicts between national federations and FIFA. This will happen due to the lose-lose situation that the federations will be put in. They either end the season abruptly for the world cup, resulting in an extended season (ironically) pushing some games into the summer heat or continue with it as it is. This would be also problematic, as top teams which have players who are also in national teams would be extremely disadvantaged by the sudden loss of their most valuable assets. As a result, conflicts will be created even between football clubs and national teams, as the clubs might refuse to let certain players go to play at the World Cup.   

No matter the situation, the shift will bring a lot of disadvantages to FIFA and its partners. The best solution is to leave it in summer where it doesn’t interfere with any other sporting competitions.

(1) “FIFA confirm winter World Cup talks”, ESPN, September 23, 2013 http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/240933.html#4k6ZFUrWKW1R2LXv.99

Counterpoint 

The November and December 2022 slot favoured by Blatter and his secretary general, Jérôme Valcke, remains “the most likely option because it avoids a clash with the Winter Olympics and takes in two international breaks so would cause marginally less disruption.”(1) That time-frame is the most likely to be chosen as the alternate date for the World Cup, so there would be no clash with the Winter Olympics and the ICC.

As far as the national championships are concerned, there should be no worries there. If indeed the World Cup is played in November-December, then the national federations would just have to enter the winter break a bit earlier than it was scheduled. This would of course mean that the championships would last a bit longer in summer, but this shouldn’t be considered a problem. The summers in most of the countries around the globe are less harsh than Qatar’s, so the players wouldn’t have any problems with this. If we were to talk about countries from the Middle East and regions alike, they could play games more often during the year, start the whole championship earlier or a combination of the two. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the European Club Association, which represents the top teams, clearly thinks it would not pose too much of a problem to his clubs having said “It is probably better to play it in winter.”(2)

In the end, there are a lot of possibilities to juggle around this sort of situations and have both a great World cup and successful national championship, while maintaining a spotless relationship with the ICC.

(1) Owen Gibson “ World Cup 2022: Sepp Blatter paves way for winter tournament in Qatar”, The Guardian, 3 October 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/oct/03/world-cup-2022-sepp-blatter-winter-qatar

(2) “Qatar World Cup 2022: Top clubs 'open' to winter tournament”, BBC, 10 September 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24035098

Bibliography 

(1) Richard Conway “Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup” , BBC, 3 October 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24375821

(2) “2022 World Cup in Qatar must be played in winter”, BBC,  16 September 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24114961

(3)” Qatar 2022 World Cup Bid Reveals New Stadium Plans and Cooling Technologies”, World Football Insider,  April 28, 2010 http://www.worldfootballinsider.com/Story.aspx?id=33206

(4) Erik Brady “Heat-related illness still deadly problem for athletes”, USA Today, 8/15/2011 http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/2011-08-15-heat-stroke-still-causing-death-in-athletes_n.htm

(5)” Qatar World Cup: Richard Scudamore wants summer event” , BBC, 15 August 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/23719835

(6) Nick Schwartz ” Qatar will spend $200 billion on the 2022 World Cup” , USA Today, July 9, 2011 http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/07/qatar-will-spend-200-billion-on-the-2022-world-cup/

(7) Owen Gibson” World Cup 2022: Sepp Blatter paves way for winter tournament in Qatar” The Guardian, 3 October 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/oct/03/world-cup-2022-sepp-blatter-winter-qatar

(8) Owen Gibson “ FIFA tells Australia to forget about £25m World Cup bid compensation” The Guardian, 17 September 201 http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/sep/17/fifa-australia-world-cup-2022

(9) Robin Scott-Elliot  “World Cup Q&A: How did the 2014 tournament in Qatar end up as a winter of discontent?”, Independent, 03 October 2013 http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/world-cup-qa-how-did-the-2014-tournament-in-qatar-end-up-as-a-winter-of-discontent-8857479.html

(10) Tariq Panja “Fox Said to Oppose FIFA Plan to Shift 2022 Soccer World Cup”, Bloomberg, Sep 17 2013 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-16/fox-said-to-oppose-fifa-plan-to-reschedule-2022-soccer-world-cup.html

 (11) “FIFA confirm winter World Cup talks”, ESPN, September 23, 2013 http://www.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/240933.html#4k6ZFUrWKW1R2LXv.99

 (12) “Qatar World Cup 2022: Top clubs 'open' to winter tournament”, BBC, 10 September 2013 http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24035098

X