Will staging a winter World Cup hurt the next generation of football fans?

Juventus' supporters cheer their team before the Italian Serie A football match Juventus Vs Udinese on December 1st, 2013 at Juventus Stadium in Turin. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO

As qualification for the 2022 World Cup is really starting to take shape it got me thinking, will this World Cup staged at a different time of year inspire more to fall in love with the game? For me the 1994 World Cup staged in the USA made me fall in love with futbol. It was the first time I had been able to see a consistent number of matches live on TV. Watching the final between Italy and Brazil was that exact moment. Seeing Roberto Baggio play was magical. Now obviously matches are available through a variety of platforms but with the World Cup being staged during the winter, will children get the experience they would if games were staged during the normal summer time period?

Children throughout the world play and love the game. The ability to see their futbol idols on the biggest stage is one of the biggest attractions to the World Cup. It builds the passion, love and dedication to the game myself and so many adults around the world have. We all had the starting moment when it all just comes together. Will this be missed now because many of the children around the globe will be in school during the majority of matches? I know in the United States schools end from May through early June so previous World Cups and even the most recent Euros haven’t run into that issue. During the last Euros I was able to point out to my two boys a variety of players they have seen watching Serie A or just playing FIFA. They can connect the dots from their club to national team and start to become fans of those players and emulate their moves or search YouTube for their highlights. Now they want those players’ jerseys too.

Using my personal example, that will be missing for next winter and personally is somewhat disappointing for my two kids. Now I know FIFA is about maximizing every dollar they can and probably the most corrupt body in the World but our kids don’t know that yet. In addition, I have to think about the players many of which will play straight through June, get a few weeks off, start preseason then back into domestic leagues in early August. I enjoy watching as many games as possible but this type of schedule after last summer having Euros and Copa America to name a few is taking its toll. I know there are calls to reform the international break schedule and I believe most fans would welcome that.

I know a World Cup finals every 2 years is almost inevitable at this stage based on what I described above but for me it takes the luster away. I believe reforming the international break schedule to longer and defined times while keeping the calendar of Euros and World Cup the same will be best in the long run. Now will I boycott if a World Cup is held every 2 years, no and that is part of the problem. We love the game so much that we will still watch and not leverage our strength as consumers to influence FIFA to keep the schedule the same but with changes that work for players, their national teams and club teams.

Now I want to make it clear that I am not against a World Cup finals held in the Middle East. It is the World Cup, and the world should be considered. I am also not an expert on school schedules around the world but just looking at my personal situation and feeling a bit disappointed. I have always taken time off from work to watch matches and will do that next winter. Just takes a little bit away from the experience for me with my children not being able to do it with me. Watching a match live, especially a World Cup, just has that extra meaning that is lost if it is recorded or I have to show them highlights. Wondering how many other fans around the world will have that same feeling?


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