Hosting a World Cup in Qatar is as morally abhorrent as it was in December 2010 when Sepp Blatter revealed the nation on a postcard.
Bloodied hands will clutch the World Cup trophy at another opening ceremony and beyond more unpalatable sportswashing the game’s calendar is unrecognizable from previous years.
The winter start date is unappealing enough, the Premier League starts in the first week of August for the first time since its inception 30 years ago and June is so teeming with international fixtures there might as well be a tournament.
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Harry Maguire does not leave the England camp until June 14 and Scott McTominay could appear in as many as five matches for Scotland, the last of them also on the 14th. Manchester United’s first day of pre-season training is on June 27.
Fifteen senior United players have been included in national or junior squads. James Garner would love to hit the ground running at Carrington but England Under-21s have two European Championship qualifiers and the second is on June 13. Alejandro Garnacho’s holiday is on hold until Argentina’s Toulon Tournament participation ends. The final is on June 12.
Alex Telles, Fred and Facundo Pellistri are on international duty until the 11th, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Dalot, Bruno Fernandes, Victor Lindelof and Anthony Elanga the 12th, Raphael Varane the 13th and Hannibal Mejbri the 14th. The summers are getting so short the day of Ralf Rangnick’s final press conference marked seven weeks until us journalists fly to Thailand for United’s pre-season tour.
Sympathy for the devils will be in short supply from United supporters subjected to so much drudgery over the last nine months. Erik ten Hag has clarified the internationals are not to pass through the Carrington barriers until a later date.
United are due to travel to Bangkok on July 8 and the club grant internationals a minimum of three weeks off in international tournament years. That would still leave United with up to 15 players regarded as first-team squad members on June 27.
Supporters will hope some of them have left, either permanently or on loan. United need a couple of key signings through the door by then, although the international dates could delay their first training day.
Ethan Galbraith, Dylan Levitt, Joe Hugill, Teden Mengi, Will Fish and Matej Kovar trained during the first week of pre-season last year as the internationals completed their European Championship campaign or sunned themselves abroad.
Unlike in tournament summers, United should have a full squad to navigate the queues at the wretched Manchester Airport in July but that first week of training is decisive for some youngsters hoping to secure a plane ticket to Asia.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho is not the daunting triumvirate it once was for Hugill and Charlie McNeill. While Martial’s body might be back in Manchester next month his mind has been elsewhere for a while. Rashford has not yet received clarity on his future from him.
Such is the death of centre-backs in training in late June the pitch is Mengi and Dishon Bernard’s to make an impression. Alvaro Fernandez should stay on the first-team pitch, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal may be involved and Daniel Gore and Kobbie Mainoo have earned a week’s work experience with Donny van de Beek.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.