In December 2010, Qatar saw off competition from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to win the bid to host the 2022 World Cup, becoming the first-ever Middle Eastern nation to do so.
Five years later, FIFA confirmed both that the tournament would, for the first time in its history, be moved to the winter to compensate for Qatar’s searing heat and that the final would take place exactly a week before Christmas.
Now, the qualification process – comprised of teams from six confederations – is complete, the official World Cup draw has come and gone and the tournament is swiftly approaching.
The 2022 World Cup, which will be the first-ever winter tournament, will be held in Qatar
Gareth Southgate’s England side will be looking to end 56 years of hurt at the tournament
Gareth Southgate’s England will head into the competition with ambitions of ending 56 years of hurt, having reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while falling agonisingly close as they were beaten on penalties by Italy at last year’s European Championships.
It’s five-time winners Brazil who, despite losing out to Argentina at last year’s Copa America, are currently the favourites, though, being FIFA’s No 1 ranked nation.
With the tournament – which runs from November 21 to December 18 – now approaching, Sportsmail gives you all the information you need.
How does the tournament work?
First, it’s essential to outline exactly how the tournament will work. There will be a total of 32 teams competing, initially split into eight groups of four.
The 32-team format – one that was introduced in 1998 – which will soon be abandoned, with a 48-team format to be introduced for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted by the United States, Mexico And Canada.
Four games a day will be played during the group stages, which run from November 21 to December 2, with the top-two teams from each progressing into the knockouts.
There will be no safety net of a best third-placed team to fall back on, as we saw at Euro 2020 last year.
The World Cup final will take place exactly a week before Christmas on Sunday, December 18
While Euro 2020 didn’t have a third-place play-off, the World Cup in Qatar will, as has been the case in previous tournaments, with Belgium beating England 2-0 in Russia four years ago.
The knockout stages, starting with the round of 16, will begin on December 3, running until December 6.
The quarter-finals will then take place from December 9-10, before the semi-finals are played on December 13 and 14.
The final of the 2022 World Cup will take place on Sunday, December 18.
What are the groups?
The World Cup draw was completed in April, by which time 29 of the 32 spots were finalised.
Two spots were always set to be determined after the draw, with the inter-confederation play-off to be completed this summer on June 13-14.
Australia beat Peru on penalties to book their place in Qatar on June 13 while Costa Rica squeezed past New Zealand 1-0 on June 14 to clinch the tournament’s final spot.
Meanwhile, the European qualification process was halted due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
That has now been completed, with Wales beating Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup and joining England in Group B.
England were drawn into Group B for this winter’s World Cup alongside Iran, USA and Wales
Gareth Bales’ Wales defeated Ukraine in the World Cup Play-Off final to book a spot at the tournament
One side joining from the inter-confederation play-off will join Group E – otherwise known as this year’s ‘Group of Death’ – where they’ll come up against Spain, Germany and Japan.
The other will also face ferocious competition in France, Denmark and Tunisia.
Though not the Group of Death, the most competitive quartet looks to be in Group H, which includes Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
- Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
- Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
- Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
- Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
- Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
- Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
- Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
- Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
What venues are being used?
There will be just eight venues in use at this winter’s World Cup, which is the fewest since the 16-team tournament at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
Each venue is situated within a 21-mile radius of central Doha, with a metro and tram system linking them all. In practice, this means fans will be able to travel to multiple matches in a day.
The Lusail Stadium will be the showpiece venue for the tournament, hosting the opening fixture, the final and a number of key matches throughout.
The Lusail Stadium is the showpiece venue that will host the opening fixture and the final
The 80,000-seater stadium only opened earlier this year, very much behind schedule
Interestingly, the stadia will all be powered by solar panel fans; they will also be equipped with detailed cooling systems to battle the heat, even though the tournament has been moved to the winter to compensate for this issue. Some of them will even have outdoor air-conditioning.
Just one stadium will play home to a football team afterwards, however, with one dismantled altogether and the remaining six to have half their seats ripped up and sent to developing countries.
Below is a full list of the venues:
- Lusail Stadium
- Al Janoub Stadium
- Al Bayt Stadium
- Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
- Education City Stadium
- Al Thumama Stadium
- Stadium 974
- Khalifa International Stadium
When are the matches taking place?
The World Cup will take place between November 21 and December 18 this year with a total of 32 teams – initially split into eight groups of four – competing for the grand prize.
The group stages will begin on November 21 and will run for 12 days, with four matches being played on each.
The top two teams from each group will progress to the round of 16, with the stage ending on December 2.
The World Cup will get underway on November 21 and run through until December 18
The round of 16 will be played from December 3-6, the quarter-finals will take place from December 9-10 and the semi-finals will be played on December 13 and 14.
The final of the 2022 World Cup will take place on Sunday, December 18.
In terms of when the matches will kick-off, FIFA have already confirmed all the timings.
The first two rounds of group stage matches will all kick off at either 1pm, 4pm, 7pm or 10pm local time, with the final round – and the knockout matches – all at either 6pm or 10pm. The final will kick-off at 6pm local time.
As for the UK, the matches during the first two rounds of group stages will kick off at either 10am, 1pm, 4pm or 7pm, with both the final round and the knockout matches at either 3pm or 7pm. The final will be at 3pm.
*full fixture list at the bottom of the page.
What will happen to the Premier League?
The Premier League schedule has been forced to adjust with this year’s World Cup taking place in the midst of the domestic campaign.
The 2022-23 season will start a week earlier than it typically would, being August 6, and will end a week later than usual on May 28, 2023.
There will be a quick break in the 2022-23 Premier League campaign during the World Cup
Matches will continue right up until the start of the tournament, with the last round of Premier League fixtures taking place on November 12-13, just over a week before the World Cup begins.
The World Cup comes to an end on December 18, and those who make the final will be called back into action just over a week later, with the season resuming on Boxing Day.
What do the odds say?
World Cup winner odds
- Brazil: 5/1
- France: 11/2
- England: 13/2
- Spain: 8/1
- Argentina: 9/1
- Germany: 10/1
- Belgium: 11/1
It was England who came into Euro 2020 as the favourites, primarily due to the fact the majority of their games were played at Wembley Stadium.
Gareth Southgate’s side, after losing out to Italy in the final, now find themselves as third favourites to lift a second-ever World Cup, a first since 1966.
Perhaps surprisingly, reigning champions France are only the second-favourites to win the tournament, though that might be due to the fact it’s been 60 years since a nation last won back-to-back World Cups.
That nation, somewhat ironically, was Brazil, who are the favourites to win a sixth trophy in their prolific history.
Also in the mix are Spain, who will be determined to bounce back after underperforming in both 2014 and 2018, having won the tournament in 2010.
As are European giants Germany, who could draw level with Brazil on five World Cup wins, alongside Argentina, whose most recent of two wins came in 1986.
Neymar will be a star attraction at the World Cup with five-time winners Brazil the favourites
How to watch the matches
All 64 matches will be available to watch on free-to-air television in the UK, with the matches split between ITV and BBC.
The TV schedule has already been announced, outlined below, though only for the group stages, with the knockouts yet to be confirmed.
Fans will be able to stream the matches via BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub.
All 64 games at the World Cup will be shown live on either BBC or ITV in the United Kingdom
Sportsmail will also be covering each and every game live, so you can follow along with us.
As for the United States, 35 matches will be shown live on Fox, with the remaining 29 on FS1.
What will the temperature be like?
The Qatar temperature was an instant topic of conversation upon the announcement of their successful bid to host the World Cup, and it came as no surprise to any when it was finally announced the tournament had been moved to winter.
A tournament in the dizzying summer heat of Qatar would have been would have been entirely implausible, with temperatures reaching as high as 48 degrees
To say it wouldn’t have been a pleasant experience for either the fans or those directly involved is an understatement – regardless of the cooling systems and outdoor air conditioning available to the stadiums.
World Cup chiefs have installed cooling machines inside their stadiums to help players and fans cope with the heat
The weather will get much cooler in December but humidity levels could reach as high as 71%
With the tournament kicking off in November, the players will instead be looking more at the 30 degree mark, according to AccuWeather, still not the most attractive proposition.
As the tournament progresses, the conditions should become slightly more manageable, however, with the temperature potentially dropping to the mid-20s by the conclusion of the group stages on December 2.
Yet, even while the historical average temperature for December 18 – the day of the final – is 24 degrees, which you can easily find on a typical British summer’s day. Humidity can also reach as high as 71 per cent between December and January.
Even having been moved to the winter, the conditions won’t be easy for those out there in Qatar.
What are the rules for those attending?
Fans heading to Qatar for the World Cup will have to adhere to a strict set of rules throughout their stay.
Tourists have been advised they can dress in what they are comfortable in, providing the clothing is modest. The UK government have also provided guidelines, in which they state women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts.
They add that both men and women should not wear shorts or sleeveless tops when in official Qatari areas, such as malls, health care facilities or government buildings.
Meanwhile, the government have warned any public intimacy can be considered an offence, ‘regardless of gender, sexual orientation or intent’.
The fans attending the World Cup will have to adhere to a number of strict rules throughout
Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, but authorities have stated ‘everyone is welcome’.
Before traveling to Qatar, the 1.5million expected fans in attendance will have to apply for a Hayya card. This is, essentially, ID that will allow an individual to get into the country, use public transport for free on matchdays and actually get into the games.
There are also strict rules on drinking alcohol in Qatar, an act which isn’t allowed in Islam. Fans won’t be able to drink on the street or in any general public spaces.
Again, the UK government have provided some guidance on drinking, stating a hefty fine or a six-month prison sentence could be handed to those who break these rules.
There will be designated drinking areas, however, for anyone aged 21 and over, with the rules relaxed for travelling spectators throughout the tournament.
These include FIFA fan zones, private clubs and some hotels. Those who purchase hospitality packages will also be able to drink in the stadiums.
Will Qatar be welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community?
Qatari officials have insisted everyone will be welcome throughout the tournament but, according to Amnesty International, same-sex relationships can lead to criminal charges and a prison sentence of up to seven years in the country.
It has been one of the many controversies to have plagued the build-up to the tournament.
Qatari authorities have been clear that LGBTQ+ people can book and share rooms during the tournament, however, also in 2020 announcing that rainbow flags will be allowed in the stadiums.
‘When it comes to the rainbow flags in the stadiums, FIFA have their own guidelines, they have their rules and regulations,’ 2022 World Cup chief executive Nasser Al-Khater said. ‘Whatever they may be, we will respect them.’
Concerns have been raised over the safety of members of the LGBTQ+ fans at the tournament
LGBTQ+ supporter groups have joined forces to condemn FIFA and the Qatar World Cup Supreme Committee
However, journalists from Sweden, Denmark and Norway recently posed as gay couples and attempted to book rooms for their honeymoons, with three hotels refusing them access.
FIFA have subsequently insisted they will order Qatari hotels not to discriminate against guests, with a spokesperson adding that those failing to comply would have their contracts terminated.
A Qatar 2022 spokesperson told Sportsmail: ‘Everyone is welcome in Qatar, regardless of their race, background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or nationality. All fans should feel welcome to book accommodation with the knowledge that the private lives of individuals living or visiting Qatar are respected.
‘Qatar is a conservative country and public displays of affection are frowned upon across the board – regardless of sexual orientation. We simply ask for people to respect our cultural norms, but also emphasise the strong culture of respect for individual privacy which exists throughout Qatar.’
FULL WORLD CUP FIXTURE LIST
*All times in BST
Monday November 21
- Group A: Senegal vs Netherlands (Al Thumama Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group B: England vs Iran (Khalifa International Stadium) at 1pm on BBC 1
- Group A: Qatar vs Ecuador (Al Bayt Stadium) at 4pm on BBC 1
- Group B: USA vs Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Tuesday November 22
- Group C: Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group D: Denmark vs Tunisia (Education City Stadium) at 1pm on ITV
- Group C: Mexico vs Poland (Stadium 974) at 4pm on BBC 1
- Group D: France vs Australia (Al Janoub Stadium) at 7pm on BBC 1
Wednesday November 23
- Group F: Morocco vs Croatia (Al Bayt Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group E: Germany vs Japan (Khalifa International Stadium) at 1pm on ITV
- Group E: Spain vs Costa Rica (Al Thumama Stadium) at 4pm on ITV
- Group F: Belgium vs Canada (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) at 7pm on BBC 1
Thursday November 24
- Group G: Switzerland vs Cameroon (Al Janoub Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group H: Uruguay vs South Korea (Education City Stadium) at 1pm on BBC 1
- Group H: Portugal vs Ghana (Stadium 974) at 4pm on ITV
- Group G: Brazil vs Serbia (Lusail Iconic Stadium), at 7pm on BBC 1
Friday November 25
- Group B: Wales vs Iran (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) at 10am on BBC 1
- Group A: Qatar vs Senegal (Al Thumama Stadium) at 1pm on BBC 1
- Group A: Netherlands vs Ecuador (Khalifa International Stadium) at 4pm on ITV
- Group B: England vs USA (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Saturday November 26
- Group C: Tunisia vs Australia (Al Janoub Stadium) at 10am on BBC 1
- Group C: Poland vs Saudi Arabia (Education City Stadium) at 1pm on ITV
- Group D: France vs Denmark (Stadium 974) at 4pm on ITV
- Group C: Argentina vs Mexico (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Sunday November 27
- Group E: Japan vs Costa Rica (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group F: Belgium vs Morocco (Al Thumama Stadium) at 1pm on BBC 1
- Group F: Croatia vs Canada (Khalifa International Stadium) at 4pm on BBC 1
- Group E: Spain vs Germany (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm on BBC 1
Monday November 28
- Group G: Cameroon vs Serbia (Al Janoub Stadium) at 10am on ITV
- Group G: South Korea vs Ghana (Education City Stadium) at 1pm on BBC 1
- Group H: Brazil vs Switzerland (Stadium 974) at 4pm on ITV
- Group H: Portugal vs Uruguay (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Tuesday November 29
- Group A: Netherlands vs Qatar (Al Bayt Stadium) at 3pm on ITV
- Group A: Ecuador vs Senegal (Khalifa International Stadium) at 3pm on ITV
- Group B: Wales vs England (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) on 7pm on BBC 1
- Group B: Iran vs USA (Al Thumama Stadium) at 7pmon BBC 1
Wednesday November 30
- Group D: Australia vs Denmark (Al Janoub Stadium at 3pm on BBC 1
- Group D: Tunisia vs France (Education City Stadium) at 3pm on BBC 1
- Group C: Poland vs Argentina (Stadium 974) at 7pm on BBC 1
- Group C: Saudi Arabia vs Mexico (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm on BBC 1
Thursday December 1
- Group F: Croatia vs Belgium (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) at 3pm on BBC 1
- Group F: Canada vs Morocco (Al Thumama Stadium) at 3pm) on BBC 1
- Group E: Costa Rica vs Germany (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
- Group E: Japan vs Spain (Khalifa International Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Friday, December 2
- Group G: South Korea vs Portugal (Education City Stadium) at 3pm on BBC 1
- Group G: Ghana vs Uruguay (Al Janoub Stadium) at 3pm on BBC 1
- Group H: Serbia vs Switzerland (Stadium 974) at 7pm on ITV
- Group H: Cameroon vs Brazil (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm on ITV
Round of 16
Saturday December 3
- Group A winners vs Group B Runners-up (Khalifa International Stadium) at 3pm (game 49)
- Group C winners vs Group D Runners-up (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium at 7pm (game 50)
Sunday December 4
- Group D winners vs Group D Runners-up (Al Thumama Stadium) at 3pm (game 51)
- Group B winners vs Group A Runners-up (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm (game 52)
Monday December 5
- Group E winners vs Group F Runners-up (Al Janoub Stadium) at 3pm (game 53)
- Group G winners vs Group H Runners-up (Stadium 974) at 7pm (game 54)
Tuesday December 6
- Group F winners vs Group E Runners-up (Education City Stadium) at 3pm (game 55)
- Group H winners vs Group G Runners-up (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm (game 56)
Friday December 9
- Winners of game 53 vs Winners of game 54 (Education City Stadium at 3pm (game 58)
- Winners of game 49 vs Winners of game 50 (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 3pm (game 57)
Saturday December 10
- Winners of game 55 vs Winners of game 56 (Al Thumama Stadium) at 3pm (game 60)
- Winners of game 51 vs Winners of game 52 (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm (game 59)
Tuesday December 13
- Winners of game 57 vs Winners of game 58 (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 7pm
Wednesday December 14
- Winners of game 59 vs Winners of game 60 (Al Bayt Stadium) at 7pm
Saturday December 17
- Third place play-off (Khalifa International Stadium) at 3pm
Sunday December 18
- World Cup final (Lusail Iconic Stadium) at 3pm