- Jason Davis

It's a good thing the Qatar World Cup isn't for another 11 years or so. That gives us, and them, plenty of time to debate the possibility of turning the world's soccer calendar on its head by moving the first-ever World Cup in the Middle East to the winter. It's hot in Qatar, and people seemed to be concerned despite promises of air conditioned stadiums and free FIFA-branded hats made out of ice for every visiting fan*.

The latest in the saga, which actually seemed close to being put to rest with Mohammed Bin Hammam's proclamation that moving the World Cup was a non-starter considering that it was up to the Qataris and the Qataris alone to decide such a thing, is a statement from the country's ruler that the question of moving the tournament to January might be put to the Qatari people themselves.

Qatari emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, from the AP:

"We will ask the people what they want," the emir said after talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron. He did not elaborate on when or how he would seek their views.

Let's recap, shall we?

On December 2nd, Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup. Up to that point, no mention had been made about the possibility of moving the tournament to the winter. We were assured that fantastic floating super cooled stadiums - yet to be built but that's okay because here are some cool renderings and Qatar can always hire cheap foreign labor to construct them - would host games comfortable for both fan and player, while World Cup visitors, when not attending games, would...there wasn't much mention of how fans would be protected from the heat when not at games, actually. Presumably, the thoughtful minds on the FIFA Executive Committee were content that the problem could be resolved with a hearty helping of Qatari cash. Either that or they didn't give it much thought at all.

Almost immediately after handing the World Cup to Qatar, soccer's leadership began to talk about moving the 2022 tournament to January. The first was Franz Beckenbauer, just two days after the vote. A week or so later, UEFA chief Michel Platini chimed in by conceding that a winter World Cup would be okay by him. FIFA General Secretary Jean Valcke backed a winter move shortly thereafter. Then Sepp himself got in on the act in the New Year, saying - in Doha of all places - that a Qatar World Cup in winter might be the way to go.

Asian Football Confederation chief and Qatari bid leader Mohammed Bin Hammam wasn't having any of it, and slapped down the winter idea (an outburst that also led to a lot of "Bin Hammam is aiming for Blatter's job" speculation) late last month.

"I've said consistently that Qatar won the bid to stage 2022 in June-July, and we intend to do so in June-July.

"We are confident we can stage the most comfortable World Cup ever and we will keep our promise.

"We are not interested in changing by even one day from the conventional period. Anyone who has a different opinion - that's their problem.

"The World Cup has been organised since its launch in 1935 in the summer, and there must be good reason why. We should preserve this and look at the damage from departing from convention.

"A shift would affect three seasons, including those before and after, and this is why I'm rejecting the idea. This is Qatar's stand as host nation. I would understand the [European] leagues' and clubs' objection."

The issue seemed closed when Blatter reversed himself, probably cowed by Bin Hammam and desperate to avoid any serious challenge to his reelection this year, by saying that "the matter was on ice" (oh, Sepp, you clever bastard you) and ham-fistedly shifting the blame for all of the speculation to player-oriented voices like Beckenbauer and Platini. Summer, then.

Or winter, I guess, since the emir reopened the question, though this idea that the Qatari people will ultimately decide when the World Cup is played in 2022 seems a tad ridiculous. I'm not even sure what would prompt Qatar's emir to say such a thing, what mechanism might be used to gauge the opinion, or if FIFA would stand idly by and let the people of Qatar jerk their tournament around. That's their job.

I've got World Cup calendar-induced whiplash, and we still have 11 years to go.

*I don't doubt that this could become a real thing.

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