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By Walter Broeckx
I can only remember one game before that was postponed in the Emirates and this was also with some snow but even more with the prospect of the police of having a difficult evening with a lot of travelling fans that could meet each other in various stations.
So I can imagine the frustration from some fans who found out about it being already on their way to the stadium since I have been through this myself. (Happened to me yesterday Walter – we had already gone 80km or more when the word came through – Tony). But when I looked at the pitch and the snow falling down it was obvious that we wouldn’t and couldn’t see any football in those circumstances.
And now I am at it I was thinking of how many leagues actually play in the winter and how many have a summer league. I was wondering if I could find some general consensus in Europe to see which time is the best to play football: in the winter or in the summer?
So I went on searching on the internet to see how things are arranged in Europe during this period of the year. And in my little survey I took 51 countries in consideration. I left out San Marino and Liechtenstein and I really hope the huge numbers of readers of Untold in those countries don’t mind.
So from these 51 countries there are 12 countries that play their league in the summer. Mostly countries from the north of Europe and Russia is also amongst them. Playing at -50°C in Siberia is not someone would look forward to. But Ireland has followed this route of having a summer league, although their northern neighbours (N Ireland) stick with the UK model.
And then we find 15 countries who have a winter competition with no break. England is among them and the rest of the leagues in the UK are. They just keep on playing without any real interruption apart from sometimes when Christmas or New Years day is situated in the weekend.
And then you have 5 countries who play in the winter but who have a mini break of maximum one month. This is the case in my own country and in Holland and also in France, just to name a few.
The biggest group however are the one that have a winter competition but who have a break of 2 or 3 months during the winter. This group has 19 countries. There competition runs from July till may but they just skip the winter months.
When the word summer league comes above water (or should I say snow) we can hear as the most heard reaction: Football is a winter sport and it always has been. Well from my survey I can learn that football is only played in the heart of the winter by some 15 countries of the 51 in total. And in fact 31 don’t play in the winter at all. This is more than the double of the hard winter boys.
And in those 15 “hard winter boys-leagues” you have some countries where they hardly understand the word winter as in countries like Spain and Greece there hardly is any winter cold.
So looking at it in general in countries where there is a colder climate in the winter, most of the countries prefer to stop their league.
So this could raise the question: shouldn’t we all switch to some kind of summer football league? And apart from the it’s a tradition I was wondering are there any other benefits from playing in subzero temperatures? At first sight I only see negative things: greater chance of muscle injuries. It is very cold for the supporters and maybe it doesn’t matter when you are 20 years old but I can tell you that when nearing the 50 year mark I don’t find it that amusing anymore to sit in the freezing cold. One can also add to this that travelling in those conditions is not safe at all.
So apart from the “tradition” and “it has always been like that” I cannot see much benefit from playing in the winter.
But I could imagine some benefits from playing the league from February till November. Most of the games would be played in conumer friendly temperatures. Tell me honest when you like going to the stadium most? With -5°C or in the sunshine when it is 20°C? I know what I like most.
In which temperature would you think you can see the best football? On a snowy pitch or an a perfect pitch in the summer? I think we all know the answer. How many times would you travel to the ground only to find you can turn back because the game had to be cancelled in the summertime? Not many times I think.
To be honest when I look at it, I can only see more advantages when you play a summer league. But for those who hold on to the tradition I don’t think we will see this happening in the very near future. The way football is moving can be more compared to the speed of a turtle than the speed of a rabbit.
But do keep in mind that since this season we will see the start of the new Ladies league which will be played in the summer. And keep in mind the year 2022. In that year we will have the World cup in Qatar and after having handed the world cup to this country Fifa has suddenly realized that in the summer it is way too hot in Qatar to play football. And they are talking about holding the world cup in January as the temperatures are much lower then. A bit late to think of this but I guess the people in charge of Fifa will have had their reasons to give it to Qatar. Most of the reason will have started with the letter D and ended on ollar.
But this would have as a result that for a lot of countries the world cup will come in the middle of their season. And so the league will have to be stopped. Or… some people might come up with the idea of doing a ladies trick: making the league a summer league. And to be honest about it: I wouldn’t mind. It’s much nicer to stand outside the Auld Triangle (I really think he should give us a free drink next time around – don’t you think Tony?) with a drink in your hand in the warmth of the sunshine instead of being frozen to the bone as we had on a few occasions.
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