In unfortunate news for Australian football fans, the AFL have released their 2022 fixtures eight years ahead of schedule, ruling out all hope for an Australian football World Cup.
With a prominent FIFA official detailing to media on Monday his belief that Qatar will likely not host the 2022 World Cup, Australian fans were hopeful the world’s largest football tournament might have been heading Down Under.
The AFL’s schedule announcement has inadvertently quelled any such hopes; with major stadiums booked out across Australia for the regular AFL season games, it’s unlikely the FFA and state governments could logistically pull off hosting a World Cup while ensuring AFL matches aren’t affected.
Chief Executive Officer of the AFL, Gillon McLachlan, told assembled journalists that the AFL’s unusual announcement ‘is merely demonstrative of the code’s foresight and long-term planning, that’s long placed AFL at the forefront of world sports.”
In a departure from the current AFL season structure, the 2022 schedule also includes a large pre-season tournament that will stretch throughout the summer, leading directly into the 2022 regular season, in an attempt to provide fans with nearly 12 months of continuous AFL matches.
Furthermore, as part of the league’s expansion plans, weekly “community” games will also be held in each major city, which will see the AFL taking up most stadiums that could have potentially been used for a football World Cup.
“It is a real shame that this has ruined soccer’s World Cup hopes,” Gillon continued, “But we have been planning the landmark 2022 season for a long time, and we’re determined to make it one of the best in AFL history.”
When asked about the 2015 AFL season, Gillon would make no comment, instead asking fans to look out for information released “a little closer to the start of the season”.