Qatar World Cup 2022: Qualification, dates, how to get tickets and can England win?
Qatar will host the next World Cup in 2022, with it being the first finals of the tournament to be hosted by an Arab country and the second held entirely in Asia. It is the 22nd edition of the Fifa World Cup, the quadrennial tournament begun in 1930, and the first since 2018 in Russia which was won by France for the second time.
From Europe: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands (all group winners).
England concluded their quest for qualification against San Marino on Monday. In total, 13 European teams will qualify for the World Cup finals: the winners of each of the 10 qualifying groups, plus three teams via the play-offs.
These play-offs will be contested between the runners up in each of the qualifying groups plus the two highest-ranked teams from the Nations League. These 12 teams will be divided into three play-off paths, each featuring four countries. The format will consist of two knockout rounds.
The draw for the play-offs takes place on Friday November 26.
Scotland are also guaranteed a place in the play-offs, after their victory over Moldova on November 12 ensured that they would finish second in their qualifying group. They will have a home semi-final after beating Denmark.
Where is the 2022 World Cup taking place?
The tournament takes place in the State of Qatar, the smallest country in size (11,600 km2) and population (2.7 million) ever to host the World Cup. This will be its first time in an Arab and Muslim-majority country and the second time in Asia after being held 11 times in Europe, three times in North America, five times in South America and once in Africa.
What are England’s chances?
While England may have come up short in their first major men’s final since 1966, losing to Italy on penalties, their charge to the Euro 2020 final has shortened their odds when it comes to next year’s World Cup.
Brazil are currently still many bookies’ favourites, despite their recent Copa America defeat by Argentina, but England are among a chasing pack that includes holders France, Germany and Spain. Italy, the new European champions, Argentina, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands will all be expected to challenge, qualification permitting.
When does it start?
When Qatar won the election held in 2010 to host the World Cup, the bid committee originally claimed that it would be held, like its predecessors, in the summer months in fully air-conditioned stadiums given temperatures on the Arabian peninsular in mid June of 50C.
However, that was quickly revised and Fifa swiftly nodded through a request from the hosts to hold it at the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, something that may have affected their bid had it been part of the original proposal.
The World Cup starts with a Group A match featuring the hosts, Qatar, on November 21, 2022. The final (and 64th match) will kick-off in Lusail on Qatar National Day, December 18, 2022.
What is the format?
The World Cup grew from 24 teams (1982-1994) to 32 teams in 1998 and this will be the final incarnation of eight groups of four teams with the top two from each going through to a knockout Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, plate match and final. From 2026, when the tournament returns to the United States, it has been expanded to 48 teams. All shall have prizes …
What times will the matches kick off?
Temperatures will still reach an average of 30C during the mid-day sun so the following kick-off times (in GMT) have been agreed for the group matches: 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. The knockout matches will kick off at 3pm and 7pm.
What venues will be used?
There are five host cities and eight stadiums, four of them in the Doha area. Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium and Al Thumama in Doha have been constructed specifically for the tournament while Khalifa International on the outskirts of the capital has been significantly upgraded.
Why is Qatar such a controversial choice?
How long have you got? Ever since it won the final round of the election in 2010, beating USA 14-8, the bid process has been blighted by evidence and allegations of corruption, leading to the resignations of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and a wider investigation into bribery by the FBI and Swiss police that have led to multiple convictions.
Qatar has also been heavily criticised for the treatment of around 1.6 million migrant workers constructing stadiums and World Cup infrastructure projects.
In addition homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar and given that inclusivity and anti-discrimination are cornerstones of Fifa’s stated mission, the decision of 22 old men to award the game’s marquee event to a place where LGBT fans could, by the letter of Qatar law, face prosecution makes all those proclamations of solidarity sound phoney.
In March Norway players warmed up before their qualifier against Gibraltar wearing T-shirts with the slogan ‘Human rights on and off the pitch’. There has been much debate throughout Scandinavia about boycotting the World Cup because of the working conditions for migrant labour in the host country and more general concerns about human rights. Denmark players wore the same T-shirts later in the week, as did the Netherlands and Germany squads.
Will fans be allowed in?
Given the evolving nature of the global coronavirus pandemic, no one can guarantee that fans will be allowed to travel to Qatar. The Middle Eastern country has announced that they will only allow vaccinated fans into its stadiums – as it drastically tries to source doses of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate its own supporters.
Speaking in January 2021, Gianni Infantino, the Fifa president, sounded optimistic when he said he hoped to see ‘full stadiums’ at next year’s tournament. “Covid-19 will be defeated by then and we will all have learned to live with it [but] if, in two years time, we are not there yet, we will have a bigger problem than the World Cup.”
More recently, however, the UK Government sounded a little more cautious. In a statement on their website, they said: “Qatari authorities are still finalising entry requirements and how access to the tournament and affiliated venues will be managed. If you’re planning to attend the World Cup, you may wish to delay making travel arrangements until requirements are confirmed.”
England supporters travelling to the World Cup will be given the opportunity to go “glamping” in the Qatar desert during the tournament as organisers look for ways to cope with the demand for accommodation next year.
Qatar organisers are planning on using cruise ships for 175,000 fans to stay on “floating villages” moored to harbours, and they have stepped up their plans for camp sites as an alternative to hotels near the eight venues for the finals.
The camp sites have been likened to “glamping” rather than an expedition into the great outdoors. Facilities would include toilets, showers and dining areas created on the land on the outskirts of the five cities hosting the tournament.
It is estimated by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy that more than one million people will head to the Middle East next year to watch the 64 matches, which will culminate in the December 18 final.
The Football Association will send a delegation to Qatar next month should Southgate’s team secure their place at the finals as they are expected to during the current international break. Security chiefs are planning to attend Arab Cup games to assess security as the final draws closer.
They will also look at potential training bases for Southgate’s squad. The England manager chose a rural retreat in Repino, outside St Petersburg, for the World Cup in 2018.
How can I get tickets for Qatar?
Patience, as ever, is a virtue here. Some hospitality packages with group games starting at £700 per ticket have already gone on sale via Fifa and its partners but general admission tickets will not be available, if previous tournaments are anything to go by, until six months before it begins.
Given where it is, however, and the fact that it is hardly an established destination for mass tourism, tickets might become available a little earlier, possibly in December 2021.
When will the World Cup draw take place?
The date in Gareth Southgate’s diary for finding out who England will face at the World Cup is April 1 next year.
The England manager is expected to travel to Doha, the capital city of the hosts, for the draw on April Fools’ Day for the serious matter of which three teams he will face in the group stage. It will coincide with the 72nd Fifa Congress.
Southgate will have seven months to prepare for the matches, with the tournament starting in November, midway through the Premier League season due to the heat in Qatar during the summer months. .