More risk of injury with winter World Cup says professor of sport

Prof John Brewer
Prof John Brewer

A University of Bedfordshire professor has said players at the 2022 Qatar World Cup will be “more at risk of injury” and three seasons of football could be severely affected if the games are moved to the winter.

Sport science expert Professor John Brewer said: “There will be a risk of severe burnout for many players, who could have to play for 18 months virtually non-stop assuming the Premier League will be forced to reduce pre-season in the summers of 2022 and 2023, as opposed to the normal two months, to accommodate the competition.

“This will be detrimental to teams hoping to perform anywhere near to their best and will have a negative knock-on effect for all competitions in Europe and further afield,” said Professor Brewer, director of Sport and Sports Enterprise at the University of Bedfordshire.

A former head of sports science at the FA, Professor Brewer was reacting to the claim by FIFA’s general secretary, Jerome Valcke, who told Radio France that the tournament will be held between November 2022 and January 2023.

The claim was quickly played down by the governing body, which stated no decision will be taken before the upcoming World Cup in Brazil – as agreed by the FIFA executive committee.

However, if, as expected, Qatar 2022 is moved from the summer, European leagues face the problem of playing three consecutive seasons between 2021 and 2024.

And Professor Brewer, who was a member of Sir Bobby Robson’s England support staff at Italia 90, believes FIFA shouldn’t be so quick to abandon the idea of a summer World Cup.

He said: “The combined factors of air-conditioned stadiums, evening kick-offs and an acclimatisation period of around a month in Qatar would have made a summer World Cup feasible.

“This would have also caused minimal disruption to the domestic seasons, some three of which could be severely affected by a winter World Cup.”