Doha, host to the World Cup which has implications around the world.
There were several incontrovertible facts by which you could live your life. By the time you plucked up the courage to wear that new, slightly leftfield fashion purchase, the world, and his wife are wearing it; the queue you opt to join at the post office almost immediately grinds to a halt, and the football World Cup comes around every four years and is played in late June and July.
Unfortunately the first of those very much still apply, we have no idea about the second (when was the last time you queued at a post office?) but the third one has been well and truly blown out of the water.
When Qatar was chosen as the venue for the 2022 World Cup there was a lot of anger, bewilderment and not to mention downright disgust. Many of the reasons for that have been discussed, debated, argued, and written about to death, but one of the issues the choice of host created didn’t come to light until some time later. The temperature in Qatar in the summer can reach upwards of 45⁰C.
That is hardly conducive to high-class outdoor sports. Therefore, the decision was made to move the tournament to the winter. It starts on Sunday the 20th of November, and finishes on Sunday the 18th of December.
Implications Home And Away
That has huge implications of course. The major European leagues have had to start earlier, and then schedule a break from mid-November to the end of December. There are many more, some of which will only come to light in November and December when the competition is in full swing. With all this change, it is perhaps reassuring that one thing remains the same, the World Cup Qatar odds are still showing that Brazil are the favourites.
Obviously, for those who would normally travel to the World Cup, a Middle East tournament is going to be different than one in Germany, England, or Brazil. In itself, that is not a problem. One of the joys of following your team to these tournaments is to experience different countries and different cultures.
Putting aside Qatar’s hard-line attitudes to many social freedoms most of us take for granted, there are other glaring issues that will make the whole experience completely alien to the normal major tournament one. For a start, there are simply not enough hotel rooms in the nation to host the expected influx of visitors. Secondly, all of the stadiums and venues are within a very short distance of each other.
It doesn’t end there, however. For those not traveling to the host nation, watching the World Cup is still a hugely social thing. Millions flock to a bar, café, restaurant, or fan park to watch the games. In summer that is far easier. Beer gardens cater to way more people, meaning pubs that see a massive increase in income from World Cups, will have a large reduction in the numbers they can accommodate. There will certainly be fan zones but people are going to have to be more creative in where they are hosted.
Tourists visiting major European cities such as London during November and December will need to be aware that many places will be rammed with football fans cheering on their nation. Those celebrations will spill out onto the streets. They will almost always be good-natured and thrilling to be part of, but it may come as a surprise for a couple hoping for a romantic evening walk.
As mentioned, the World Cup gives a huge boost to nations’ economies, with people going out to watch the matches, or alternatively hosting parties around their homes. This World Cup coincides with the other busy period for the leisure industry, the run-up to Christmas, which is another blow for an industry that is already on its knees.