Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Now Warming to a Winter World Cup

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why I'm Now Warming to a Winter World Cup

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones

THIS thought may have occurred to you already but isn't there something to be said for holding a football World Cup in the vastly wealthy, Satanically hot, gay-hating, Nepalese scaffolders' graveyard that is Qatar? From a selfish point of view, I mean. For years, everyone here in England has been griping about how much our players need a winter break. Well, finally here's the chance.

This week it was effectively confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will take place in the winter. Now, I know this means disrupting the whole European domestic football season for about three years, narking off American and Latin American TV broadcasters and proving once and for all that if Qatar asked FIFA to host a World Cup on the viewing deck of The Shard, then FIFA would merely ask whether they should serve olives or pretzels in the lift on the way up.

And I also realise that this was the least surprising sporting news since Lance Armstong sat down opposite Oprah Winfrey and announced that his Tour de France wins weren't all entirely fuelled by Lucozade and the occasional handful of Haribo Starmix.

And, of course, it has been greeted around Europe's footballing establishment and in the press with great rage and general gnashing of teeth. But now it's finally out there, hell, shouldn't we maybe try to make the most of it? I mean, look at it this way. In 2022 the best 23 English-qualified players will jet off from the end of November until Christmas Eve, to chill in one of those ghastly middle-eastern 13-star hotels they like so much, with 28 restaurants, a pool the size of the Black Sea and wage-slave staff mixing cocktails costing more than they earn in a month. Once there, the English will play a maximum of three group matches and the inevitable disappointing knockout tie against Italy, before coming home at their leisure to enjoy the rest of December at home, playing FIFA 23 on the Xbox and drawing lots to determine who must Snapchat a picture of their balls to the lady physio at the first team's Christmas party.

If that isn't a recipe for this country turning out fresher, better-rested, more technically adept players, ready to win Euro 2024, then I don't know what is. …

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