Spanish FA File Appeal On 2022 Winter World Cup

Jun 7, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Spain midfielder David Silva (21) passes the ball against El Salvador at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Spain midfielder David Silva (21) passes the ball against El Salvador at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

If there has been one major lesson over the past few weeks when following the FIFA scandal it is that Europe still wields a tremendous amount of power in the game. For as much as the game has grown throughout the world Europe still controls how this game is governed and seems ready to re-assert its position in the world. On Monday, that position came very clear as the Spanish Football Association filed an appeal with the Court Of Arbitration For Sport to change the 2022 Qatar World Cup schedule from summer to winter.

For those who are new to this situation, the World Cup is typically played during the summer months so as not to conflict with the European club calendar. What makes the 2022 World Cup different though is that it would be the first tournament played during the winter. The reason for this is that the tournament was awarded to Qatar, the Gulf nation where temperatures in the summer months can reach up to 106 degrees Farenheit. Despite the Qatari Football Association promising during the bid process that they can host a summer World Cup, FIFA voted in March to move the 2022 World Cup from the summer to winter.

While there are certainly many things that have been suspicious about the Qatar World Cup bid (not to mention the 2018 World Cup bid, which was awarded to Russia) the change in schedule gave FIFA another potential enemy: the European clubs. November to December is perhaps one of UEFA’s busiest time periods and for the European clubs the benefit of moving the World Cup to winter does not outweigh the costs. Aside from the Nordic countries and Russia (who typically play a March to November) all of the European clubs have their leagues going on during this period as well as the league cup tournaments. UEFA also has to consider that the Champions League group stages would be affected by a Winter World Cup.

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Moving their schedule around for not just one year but two to three years impacts UEFA’s bottom dollar. In a recent report conducted by Spanish paper As, it was revealed that the Spanish FA submitted three independent reports which showed that they would lose approximately $71 million dollars from shifting the La Liga schedule. La Liga is home to club giants FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid.

Given their reticence towards allowing players to play in tournaments like the Africa Cup of Nations, the AFC Asian Cup (which are typically played in the winter,) and their tepid response to the FIFA Club World Cup FIFA should have expected this. It also does not help that FIFA has ruled out compensating the European clubs for interfering with their schedule.

During the review process of changing the Qatar World Cup schedule UEFA did offer the alternative of moving the tournament to May-June in 2022. That option was denied by FIFA.

So the question now is what can the Court of Arbitration for Sport do and what will UEFA’s response be? The Court has never really handled an issue on the level of something like a World Cup bid, instead mostly focusing on anti-doping policy and player representation. Appeals are also very rarely successful.

Despite this, what is clear is that some members of UEFA and the European clubs are not happy with this decision. UEFA President Michel Platini has already made it clear that the Federation would consider boycotting FIFA if President Sepp Blatter still remains in power. If Blatter stays in power or if the Spanish FA’s appeal is denied then the European clubs may have had enough and use their power to keep their players out of FIFA tournaments.