Because FIFA president Sepp Blatter has a seasonal job as a Santa in a suburban Zurich shopping mall, he needs to be back in Switzerland before December 25. That could present a problem in seven years’ time, because the Qatar World Cup is going to be held in the winter.
But don’t worry, Blatter assured concerned parents this week. Despite UEFA’s desire to have the final on December 23, FIFA won’t let the tournament end any later than December 18.
“Not until the 23rd, definitely not. We have to stop at the 18th,” Blatter said in Belfast, where soccer’s international lawmakers are meeting in order to find more excuses to ignore technology and keep the sport in the dark ages. A final decision will take place in three weeks.
Europe’s top clubs and leagues are unenthused about a winter World Cup smack in the middle of their seasons. Particularly the English Premier League, because England has the richest league in the world and invented the sport, so the rest of the world must DO ITS BIDDING OR FACE ITS TERRIBLE WRATH.
Also because England has a proud tradition of playing on through the winter, even on December 26, so that people who hate their relatives can find an excuse to get away from them on the day after Christmas when there’s a post-gifts slump, everyone’s eaten and drunk too much, is feeling a little bit sick and is remembering why family get-togethers only take place once a year.
Obviously it would be crazy to suggest that the England team will get anywhere near the closing stages of a World Cup, but since the Premier League is packed full of clubs with players from countries that actually achieve international success, they’re worried about stars returning from the desert late, tired, injured and with suitcases packed full of extremely tacky toy camel souvenirs.
“They are not so very happy and it’s so good now to make a little bit of noise about FIFA and about the World Cup in Qatar. There are more than six years – particularly seven years – to prepare. And there is a goodwill. There will be a solution and I’m sure everybody will be fine,” Blatter reassured reporters, calming their colic by making soft cooing sounds, stroking their chins and gently rocking them to sleep.
Quite right, Sepp. That’s an extremely accurate way to characterize the soccer world’s reaction to FIFA giving Qatar the World Cup. “A little bit of noise”. Nothing more. Just a little fuss about nothing, really.