Fifa has unveiled the match schedule for the 2022 World Cup. This will be the first tournament played outside of the traditional ‘summer months’ of June and July, and will begin on November 21 at Qatar’s Al Bayt stadium.
Games in the group stages will kick off at either 13.00 local time (11am CET) 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00. Last group-round games and the knockout stages will begin at either 18.00 or 22.00.
Over the course of 12 days from November 21 to December 2, there will be 4 group matches a day, with the aim being to give each team as much rest between games as possible. This also means that the World Cup final will be held on December 18.
This timing is particularly relevant for European teams who will be right in the middle of their domestic season, with matches being played right up until Christmas, and on Boxing day (December 26). Traditionally, the World Cup would fall between seasons during the summer break.
For fans and those following the matches, there will be no air travel required between stadiums, with the layout of the tournament remaining relatively compact. As yet though, the teams for each game are yet to be drawn. That process is expected to take place in March 2022. Once that’s done, optimal kick-off times for the teams’ respective fans watching in their home countries will be discussed.
In the meantime, World Cup qualifiers are still to be played. Of the 46 teams in the Asian group that the UAE are a part of, they’ll have stiff competition from Japan, Australia and Iraq, as well as local rivalries with Saudi Arabia.
The UAE team will of course be looking to emulate the success of their golden generation, who made it to the 1990 world cup in Italy.
Elsewhere, Mo Salah will be hoping to lead the Egyptian team to qualification. The talismanic striker has already tasted Champions and Premier League success. Could this be the tournament that sees an African team win it?