Your World Cup Questions, Answered

The World Cup draw is Friday in Qatar, even though the entire field isn’t yet complete. While we don’t know all the teams, we do know quite a bit about how things will play out. Here’s a primer on the world’s greatest sporting spectacle.

When is the World Cup?

The opening match is Nov. 21 (three days before Thanksgiving in the United States). Over the month that follows, all the games will take place in a tight circle of eight stadiums in and around Qatar’s capital, Doha, making it the most compact World Cup in history.

The final is Dec. 18 — a week before Christmas, which means the Doha airport on the morning of Dec. 19 is going to look like the entrance to a Walmart on Black Friday.

Wait, don’t they play the World Cup in July?

They always had, until Qatar got it.

Qatar, like the other bidders, initially proposed holding the tournament in its normal summer window, and brushed aside any suggestion it could not do so with the help of cooling technology that did not, at the time, exist. As The Times wrote on the day of the vote in 2010:

It took more than four years, but in 2015 FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, eventually concluded that a summer World Cup in 120-degree temperatures might bring unneeded problems (like, say, fans and players dying) and agreed to move the tournament to the relatively cooler months of November and December.

The Education City stadium in Al Rayyan, one of eight built or remodeled for the 2022 World Cup.Credit…David Ramos/Getty Images

What about the league games that normally take place then?

Oh, the leagues grumbled. A lot. But they lost.

Fox Sports, which paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the United States broadcast rights, will have to wedge in a month of soccer games around another fall sport that tends to demand attention that time of year. Maybe you’ve heard of the N.F.L.?

How many teams get in?

A total of 32. They’ll be split into eight groups of four. The top two finishers in each group advance to the round of 16. After that, the World Cup is a straight knockout tournament.

Which countries have qualified?

Qatar qualified automatically as the host, and 28 other teams so far have joined it. Those include most of the biggest teams from Europe and South America: England and Germany, Brazil and Argentina, France and Spain.

Canada is in. The United States and Mexico joined the field on Wednesday night.

Ukraine might still go. Russia

Related Articles

Back to top button