With the start of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar finds itself at the center of the soccer universe. National teams from 32 countries square off in the tournament to decide which nation will reign supreme.

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Qatar & the FIFA World Cup

By far the smallest nation to ever hold the FIFA World Cup, Qatar also adds the distinction of being the first Middle Eastern country to play host. Though much controversy surrounded the selection of Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup, the nation has invested more than 150 billion euros into the endeavor, improving its infrastructure as well as building new stadiums for the event.

While Qatar first played in World Cup qualifiers in 1978, this is the first time its national team has ever actually competed in the tournament.

What makes Qatar 2022 World Cup unique

There are several facets to the 2022 World Cup that makes this tournament different from the ones that preceded it. Some of the interesting facts about the FIFA World Cup you should keep in mind leading up to and during the tournament include:

  • This is the first World Cup to take place in a Middle Eastern country.
  • Because of its location and climate, the Qatar World Cup will not be held in the summer. This is the first time the World Cup is played during the winter months.
  • Major soccer leagues, including the English Premier League, will suspend its season play to accommodate players joining their national teams for the World Cup.
  • The World Cup will be played in a span of 28 days, three days shorter than the 2018 World Cup, making it one of the shortest tournaments on record.
  • This is the last time there will be 32 countries competing in the tournament. In the 2026 World Cup held in the North America, 48 teams will comprise the groups.

Qatar 2022 World Cup Format

The World Cup format is essentially a season unto itself. Here are the keys dates and arrangements you need to know.

Qualifiers

Each national team must compete and qualify to play in the 2022 World Cup. The only exception being Qatar, which as the host country, is given a free berth into the tournament. FIFA allocated a specific number of slots for each of its six regional confederations to determine the 32-team configuration for the tournament. These are:

  • AFC (Asia): 4 or 5 teams
  • CAF (Africa): 5 teams
  • CONCACAF (North, Central America, and Caribbean): 3 or 4 teams
  • CONMEBOL (South America): 4 or 5 teams
  • OFC (Oceania): 0 or 1 team
  • UEFA (Europe): 13 teams
  • Host Country: 1 team

These six regional tournaments began in June 2019 and conclude in June 2022. 29 out of 32 teams have already qualified, including betting favorites Germany, Spain, Brazil, France, Portugal and England.

The draw

On April 1 2022, FIFA held the draw to determine each national team’s placement in a specific group. Interestingly, because of delays caused by covid, the draw occured prior to the conclusion of all of the tournaments to determine the field of 32 teams. How this will be sorted out remains to be seen.

What we do know is that the 32 teams were divided into four pots from which the eight groups were drawn. The teams that were placed in the top pot are usually determined based upon FIFA rankings, teams like England, France and Brazil were among the top seeds as was Qatar due to its position as host nation. A team’s draw into a particular group can be a blessing or a curse due to its other competitors.

Tournament:

The tournament itself plays out in a series of stages. In the first round, each team plays the other three teams in its group once. This is taking place beginning on November 21 and run through December 2. There are be four matches held each day. Teams earn three points for a victory, one point for a draw, and zero for a loss. Should there be a tie after the group stage, tie breakers for standings are based on (1) total goal differential and (2) most goals scored in group matches.

The top two teams in each group then advance to the knockout stage. This begins with the Round of 16 (December 3-6), then to the Quarter-finals (December 9-10), Semi-Finals (December 13-14), and eventually the Final to be played on December 18 with the runner-up match scheduled the day before, December 17.

The Knockout Stage

A single-elimination tournament akin to NCAA March Madness basketball. Win, and you advance to the next stage. Lose, and you go home. Match-ups are predetermined with the top seed from each group playing the second seed from another group.

World Cup 2026

The 2022 World Cup is the final tournament with this format. Beginning with the 2026 World Cup, a new design will be unveiled. This begins with 48 national teams competing, initially arranged in 16 groups of three teams. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage which will begin with 32 teams in the single elimination tournament, essentially doubling what the current format calls for.

Important Dates and Times for Qatar 2022 World Cup

Mark your calendars, soccer fans! These are the dates and times you need to be aware of to be on top of all of the 2022 World Cup action. You can find more info on our World Cup Schedule guide

Group Draw:

April 1, 2022
Final FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 intercontinental play-offs: June 13-14

Group Stage – November 21 through December 2:
1 pm (10:00 GMT)
4 pm (13:00 GMT)
7 pm (16:00 GMT)
10 pm (19:00 GMT)

Round of 16 – December 3 through December 6:

6 pm (15:00 GMT)
10 pm (19:00 GMT)

Quarter-Finals – December 9-10:

6 pm (15:00 GMT)
10 pm (19:00 GMT)

Semi-Finals – December 13-14:

10 pm (19:00 GMT)

Third Place – December 17:

6 pm (15:00 GMT)

Final – December 18:

6 pm (15:00 GMT)

Qatar 2022 World Cup stadiums

Qatar is sparing no expense in putting on the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As part of the billions spent to host the games, Qatar is utilizing eight state-of-the-art stadiums, most of which were built specifically for this tournament.

  • Name: Al Bayt
  • Year: 2021
  • Location: Al Khor
  • Capacity: 60,000
  • Matches: Opening match; matches for Groups A, B, E, F; All knockout stages except for Final

Al Bayt already played host to Qatar’s 1-0 victory against Bahrain in 2021. The retractable roof venue is designed to resemble the traditional tents used by nomads in the area. The stadium also features an attached hotel with rooms that overlook the playing field.

  • Name: Lusail Iconic Stadium
  • Year: 2021
  • Location: Lusail
  • Capacity: 80,000
  • Matches: Matches for Groups C, D, G, H; All knockout stages including the Final

The largest venue in use for the tournament, Lusail Iconic Stadium will host the 2022 World Cup Final. It is cooled using solar power, leaving no carbon footprint. It is expected to be repurposed into a 20,000-seat stadium after the tournament’s completion.

  • Name: Stadium 974
  • Year: 2021
  • Location: Doha
  • Capacity: 40,000
  • Matches: Matches for Groups C, D, G, H; two matches in the Round of 16

Formerly known as Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Stadium 974 gets its unusual moniker from the use of 974 recycled shipping containers in its construction and design. All of this is an homage to its waterfront location. The stadium is temporary and slated to be destroyed after the 2022 World Cup.

  • Name: Al Thumama Stadium
  • Year: 2021
  • Location: Doha
  • Capacity: 40,000
  • Matches: Matches for Groups A, B, E, F; two matches in the Round of 16 and Quarter-Finals

Specifically built for this World Cup, Al Thumama Stadium is designed to resemble a taqiyah hat, the traditional cap worn by men throughout the Middle East. Expected to be downsized after the tournament, the stadium is located near Hamad International Airport and is surrounded by a public park.

  • Name: Education City Stadium
  • Year: 2020
  • Location: Al Rayyan
  • Capacity: 45.350
  • Matches: Matches for Groups C, D, G, H; two matches in the Round of 16 and Quarter-Finals

Considered one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable stadiums, Education City Stadium gets its name from its location among several university campuses at the Qatar Foundation’s Education City. After the tournament, the stadium will be used by the universities’ athletic teams.

  • Name: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium
  • Year: 2003
  • Location: Al Rayyan
  • Capacity: 40.740
  • Matches: Matches for Groups A, B, E, F; two matches in the Round of 16

The original Ahmed bin Ali Stadium was completely renovated for the 2022 World Cup. This included the installation of a massive “media façade” on the stadium which will act as a video screen for updates, current tournament information and matches. The stadium is also home to the Al-Rayyan Sports Club.

  • Name: Khalifa International Stadium
  • Year: 1976
  • Location: Doha
  • Capacity: 40.000
  • Matches: Matches for Groups A, B, E, F; two matches in the Round of 16; Third Place match

The only stadium of the eight in use for the World Cup not built exclusively for the tournament, Khalifa International Stadium has hosted several other sporting events since its opening. Named after Qatar’s former Emir, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, was the first in the world to receive a four-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System.

  • Name: Al Janoub Stadium
  • Year: 2019
  • Location: Al Wakrah
  • Capacity: 40.000
  • Matches: Matches for Groups C, D, G, H; two matches in the Round of 16

Al Janoub Stadium features a retractable roof designed to resemble the sails of traditional Dhow boats used in the Persian Gulf. The stadium will decrease in seating capacity after the 2022 World Cup and be the home of the Al-Wakrah SC football club.

Conclusion:

Much controversy surrounded Qatar’s hasty construction of many of these new venues, with many lives lost due to alleged poor working conditions. Despite this tragedy, the location of the eight venues makes travel between the stadiums easy for both fans and teams. In fact, it’s likely that fans traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup will have little problem traversing the country to see their favorite teams play. It’s just a shame it had to come with such a high price tag attached.

Official Song for the Qatar 2022 World Cup

The official song for the 2022 World Cup has not yet been announced. Typically, there are two tunes fans should be aware of. The first is the official song. The second is the official anthem. Both are usually spirited, uplifting songs to help fans get into the action on the pitch.

In recent years, top artists including Pitbull with Jennifer Lopez (2014’s official anthem “We Are One (Ole Ola)”); Nicky Jam with Will Smith (2018’s official song “Live it Up’); and Shakira (2014’s official song “Waka Waka”) have contributed to the World Cup’s official songs and anthems.

Official Ball of the Qatar 2022 World Cup

Adidas will have the honor of producing the official ball for the 2022 World Cup. It has done so since 1970. This World Cup’s ball is called the Rihla which is the Arabic world for journey (or the travelogue that documents a journey). Officially, the ball is known as the Adidas 2022 World Cup Rihla Official Match Ball. The ball features a vivid design which delivers plenty of eye appeal. Given recent history, there is a chance a second ball design will be released later in the tournament and used exclusively for the knockout rounds.

Prior official Adidas World Cup balls include:

  • 2018: Telstar 18, Telstar Mechta
  • 2014: Brazuca, Brazuca Final Rio
  • 2010: Jabulani, Jo’bulani
  • 2006: Teamgeist, Teamgeist Berlin
  • 2002: Fevernova
  • 1998: Tricolore (the first multi-colored ball used in the World Cup)

Official Kits of the Qatar 2022 World Cup

There are three main brands producing the kits for the 2022 World Cup: Nike, Adidas and Puma. None of these have yet released their designs for the tournament. The earliest expected date isn’t until May, but it’s possible the design for home and/or away kits will not be revealed until September.

Will it cannot be known what each national team’s kits will look like, we expect national colors and symbols will be adhered to, but hopefully with some additional flair. It would hard to watch England without the Three Lions represented or Brazil not sporting their usually green and yellow colors. Regardless, we eagerly await to see the new kit designs.

FIFA World Cup Interesting Facts

  • Brazil is the only nation to qualify for every World Cup tournament.
  • The Netherlands has the most top two finishes without ever winning the title (three).
  • Mexico has the most World Cup appearances without ever reaching the semi-finals (16).
  • Scotland has the most appearances without ever advancing past the first round (eight).
  • Pele is the player with the most championships (three).
  • Pele is also the youngest player to ever play in a World Cup final (17 years, 249 days).
  • Three players — Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthäus (Germany), Rafael Márquez (Mexico) – have played in five tournaments.
  • The biggest upset in World Cup history (based on FIFA rankings) was in 2010 when South Africa (#83) defeated France (#9) 2-1.

Past World Cup Champions

Here’s a little history for you. The list of past World Cup champions since the tournament began back in 1930.

  • 2018 France
  • 2014 Germany
  • 2010 Spain
  • 2006 Italy
  • 2002 Brazil
  • 1998 France
  • 1994 Brazil
  • 1990 Germany
  • 1986 Argentina
  • 1982 Italy
  • 1978 Argentina
  • 1974 Germany
  • 1970 Brazil
  • 1966 England
  • 1962 Brazil
  • 1958 Brazil
  • 1954 Germany
  • 1950 Uruguay
  • 1938 Italy
  • 1934 Italy
  • 1930 Uruguay

Only eight nations have ever won the World Cup. And only twice has a team won them in back-to-back tournaments: Brazil (1958 & 1962) and Italy (1934 & 1938). France could become the third team to do so, and they are one of the bookmakers’ early favorites for this tournament. But they will face fierce competition from Brazil, Spain, and Germany. But this might finally be England’s time to shine. The nation is craving another World Cup championship, and if they can stave off the pressure, the Three Lions are a popular world cup betting option to win it all in 2022.

Top Goal Scorers from Past World Cups

Each tournament, the Golden Boot is awarded to the top goal scorer for the entire tournament. The top scoring player often doesn’t play for the nation that wins the tournament. In fact, only on four occasions has the top goal scorer played for the championship team. That’s something to keep in mind if you plan on betting on this outcome. Here’s the list of the previous Golden Boot winners for reference:

  • 1930 Guillermo Stabile Argentina
  • 1934 (tie) Angelo Schiavio Italy
  • Oldrich Nejedly Czechoslovakia
  • Edmund Conen Germany
  • 1938 Leonidas da Silva Brazil
  • 1950 Marques Ademir Brazil
  • 1954 Sandor Kocsis Hungary
  • 1958 Just Fontaine France
  • 1962 Drazen Jerkovic Yugoslavia
  • 1966 Ferreira Eusebio Portugal
  • 1970 Gerd Muller West Germany
  • 1974 Grzegorz Lato Poland
  • 1978 Mario Kempes Argentina
  • 1982 Paolo Rossi Italy
  • 1986 Gary Lineker England
  • 1990 Salvatore Schillaci Italy
  • 1994 (tie) Oleg Salenko Russia
  • Hristo Stoitchkov Bulgaria
  • 1998 Davor Suker Croatia
  • 2002 Ronaldo Brazil
  • 2006 Miroslav Klose Germany
  • 2010 Thomas Müller Germany
  • 2014 James Rodríguez Columbia
  • 2018 Harry Kane England

The key to betting on the top scorer is obviously to choose an excellent striker but to also take into account his team’s group. Most of the goals will be scored in the three group matches. Teams with a weak group are likely to excel and pour in the goals. Once groups are determined, then decide upon the best bets for choosing the top goal scorer.

Past World Cup Host Nations

With Qatar being the first host nation located in the Middle East, you might be wondering which other nations held the World Cup. Here’s a list of each host nation, dating back to the original World Cup in 1930.

  • 1930 Uruguay
  • 1934 Italy
  • 1938 France
  • 1950 Brazil
  • 1954 Switzerland
  • 1958 Sweden
  • 1962 Chile
  • 1966 England
  • 1970 Mexico
  • 1974 Germany
  • 1978 Argentina
  • 1982 Spain
  • 1986 Mexico
  • 1990 Italy
  • 1994 United States of America
  • 1998 France
  • 2002 South Korea/Japan
  • 2006 Germany
  • 2010 South Africa
  • 2014 Brazil
  • 2018 Russia

World Cup by the Numbers

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and the World Cup is the world’s most popular sporting event. Here’s some of the most pertinent numbers related to the event:

  • In 2018, over 1.1 billion people watched the World Cup.
  • Brazil has the most World Cup titles with five.
  • Germany has the most top two finishes (eight), top three finishes (12) and top four finishes (13).
  • Brazil has the most wins in World Cup history (73) while Mexico has the most losses (27). Italy and England are tied with the most draws (21)
  • Brazil has scored the most goals in World Cup history (229) and has the most goals scorers (80).
  • Germany has conceded the most goals in World Cup history (125).
  • Argentina has played against Germany three times in finals history (1986, 1990 and 2014).
  • The largest attendance for a World Cup Final was in 1986 in Mexico City when 114,600 fans attended the match between Argentina and West Germany.
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