August 31, 2021: Unusually, the world cup is right around the corner despite the Euros having only just concluded. 32 teams are set to compete in Qatar for the world cup in 2022, though there will be some slight adjustments to the usual scheduling that fans are used to.
With Euro 2020 being delayed to 2021, there’s now a gap year between the two tournaments. Though, it’s a little more than a year, as the world cup will take place in the winter months, starting on the 21st of November at the Al Bayt stadium. The opening fixture will feature Qatar - a nation that has never qualified for a world cup since its independence in 1971.
This won’t just be a unique experience for the Qatar national team, but also for football fans across the world. No middle eastern country has ever hosted the world cup before, so it will be expected that fans behave a little differently according to local laws and culture.
For example, drug usage among England fans outside Wembley was rife, as was bookies betting. Instead, it’s going to have to be Live Arabic Casino and take it easy on alcohol this year. You can read more about this at VIPArabClub.
World cup format in Qatar
The world cup will have 32 teams in 8 groups of 4. During the group stages, four matches are played each day, until each team plays each other once in their group. This lasts 12 days, until the winners and runners-up progress to round 16.
Round 16 matches and other knockout games will be assigned to stadiums and times before the end of the group stage. This is mostly so fans can predict where their nation’s team - or the team they’re supporting - will be playing regarding ticket purchases.
In fact, organizers will be using the final draw to do the same, where they will try and match up kick-off times with that nation’s television audience.
Group stage games will be played between the 12th of November and the 2nd of December. Round 16 will be played between the 3rd and 6th of December; quarter-finals on the 9th and 10th of December, the semi-final between the 13th and 14th of December, and the final on the 18th of December - a week before Christmas.
However, there will also be a 3rd place play-off game on the 17th December, a day before the final, which the Euros do not have.
FIFA has confirmed the times of the matches during the first two rounds: 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 10pm local time. Knock-out round matches will be played at 6pm and 10pm. Whilst the final is scheduled for 6pm.
The group games are going to be played in 8 stadiums across Qatar: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Thumama Stadium, Education City Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium, Lusail Stadium, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, and Ahmad Bin Ali.
The Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is one that has caught particular attention in the media. Not because of how it’s built, or what it looks like, but because of its life after the world cup: it’s intended to be torn down right after the competition. This is the first world cup stadium in history that is intended to be torn down, though its unique composition has also caught the eye of the media.
The stadium is being built out of 974 shipping containers from a nearby port, creating a tonne of color and character. The number 974 is no coincidence either, it’s the number of Qatar’s dialing code. Being made out of recycled steel, this is Qatar’s bold symbol of sustainability and identity.
In only two weeks' time, qualifiers continue for the world cup. On the 1st of September, South Korea will play Iraq, among countless other fixtures. Brazil is far and away winning the South American Group, whilst England, Croatia, Armenia, Egypt, St Kitts, and Nevis, Solomon Islands, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal lead their groups.
Perhaps the biggest upset so far is Germany being third in the table behind North Macedonia - who they lost to in the Euros qualification too - and Armenia, who surprisingly leads the group with 9 points. Though, Germany is set to play Armenia on the 5th of September, giving Germany an opportunity to turn things around.
Of course, being the host, Qatar needn’t partake in the qualifiers, as they will be playing in that first world cup fixture regardless.
Tickets are currently open from the 3rd of August to 17th of August, in which football fans can apply and put their name down. Their favorite team can be picked, along with applying to individual matches.
From there, it’s somewhat of a random draw. What will be interesting to see is how many tickets are applied for, as this is certainly a unique world cup that is perhaps seen as being less accessible for some fans. It is also wintertime, so it may be a better opportunity for some fans to get a ticket compared to usual.