FIFA make World Cup decision that could have big impact on Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham

The Qatar World Cup is set to cause havoc in the Premier League calendar this season, and things could still get more complicated for clubs

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will already be causing clubs plenty of headaches with the tournament set to take place over November and December. FIFA have now decided that each nation will be allowed to take 26 players to the showpiece rather than 23, a decision that could impact further on sides including Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.

All three London sides are packed with talent and will each have a number of stars away for over a month in the middle of season, increasing the risk of fatigue and injury prior to their returns after Christmas. With three extra spots now up for grabs, it could mean even more stars are called up as well.

In England’s team alone, the likes of Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Reece James and Mason Mount were all called up for last season’s Euro 2020. With the 32 countries competing, each club could see half of their squads called up.

Explaining the decision, FIFA said: “Given the need to retain additional flexibility due to the unique timing of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the global calendar, as well as the broader context of the disruptive effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on squads before and during tournaments, the Bureau has decided the following…

“The maximum number of players on the release list has been increased from 35 to 55. The number of players to be included on the final list has been increased to at least 23 and a maximum of 26.

“The final matchday at club level for the 23 to 26 players nominated on the final list will be 13 November 2022. No more than 26 people (up to 15 substitutes and 11 team officials – one of these officials must be the team doctor) will be allowed to sit on the team bench.”

It is a decision that may not please clubs worldwide and will also not please England manager Gareth Southgate. The Three Lions boss led the country to its first major tournament final last summer during Euro 2020 and did not want to see the proposal become reality when asked in the build-up to that tournament.

Southgate told BeIN Sports last year: “Personally I wouldn’t want to have too big of a squad. I think there’s a skill in picking a 23. I think you end up with a lot of players not playing anyway and it’s difficult to manage, it’s hard for the squad to come through. So, I can understand it but I’m not 100 per cent sure if I’m for it.”

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