There have been 21 editions of the Men’s World Cup since it opened in 1930, but Qatar 2022 aims to be a tournament like no other.
Ever since it was announced as the host city nearly 12 years ago, it has always been destined to be a World Cup of firsts.
From extreme weather to tournament debuts, CNN takes a look at how this year’s competition will break new ground.
This is the first time that the Qatar men’s national team is taking part in a World Cup, having failed to qualify through normal means in the past.
FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host country to take part in a World Cup without having to go through the qualifying rounds, meaning the small Gulf state can now go head-to-head with the best in world football.
Qatar is relatively new to the sport, having played its first official game in 1970, but the country has fallen in love with the beautiful game and the national team has steadily improved.
In 2004, The Aspire Academy was founded with the hope of identifying and developing Qatar’s most talented athletes.
In recent years, this has paid off for his football team. Qatar won the 2019 Asian Cup, capping one of the most memorable runs in the history of the tournament, conceding just one goal throughout the tournament.
Seventy percent of the team that won the trophy went through the academy, and that number has only increased on the road to the World Cup.
Qatar, coached by Spaniard Felix Sanchez, will try to surprise people and face a relatively friendly group alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.
The World Cup has always been held in either May, June or July, but Qatar 2022 will break with that tradition – more out of necessity.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach over 40 degrees Celsius during these months, so the tournament has been moved to a cooler time.
However, winter in Qatar is a relative term as temperatures are still expected to hover in the 30s, but organizers are hoping to combat the heat with a number of methods, including high-tech cooling systems in the stadiums.
The change in tournament dates has devastated some of the biggest domestic leagues in the world.
All of Europe’s top leagues have had to fit a winter break into their schedules, resulting in crowded fixtures before and after the tournament.
One of FIFA’s justifications for awarding hosting rights to Qatar was the opportunity to take the tournament to a new part of the world.
None of the previous 21 World Cups have been held in an Islamic country and this month’s tournament will offer the region an opportunity to celebrate its growing love for the game.
However, it undoubtedly raises some issues that the organizers have had to contend with. For many fans, drinking alcohol is, and will continue to be, a huge part of the experience of such tournaments.
However, it is illegal to be seen drunk in public in Qatar, which has forced the organizers to find inventive ways to circumvent the problem.
As a result, alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks around Doha and there will be separate areas for fans to sober up before and after matches.
The world’s only openly gay professional soccer player is worried about the LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022
– Source: CNN
Another question mark surrounding the tournament is how the country can cope with the expected influx of one million visitors, given that it is the smallest country hosting the World Cup with a population of just under three million.
As such, all eight stadiums are located in and around the capital, Doha, and are all within an hour’s drive of one another.
Organizers say travel infrastructure – including buses, the metro and rental cars – will be able to cope with the increased pressure.
An advantage of the short distances between the venues is that fans can watch up to two games in one day. Should the traffic be friendly.
Due to its size, Qatar also had to be smart about its accommodations. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are docked in Doha to support hotels.
Both ships offer the usual cruising experience, but fans won’t sail further than the 10-minute shuttle bus ride into the heart of Doha.
For those fans who are prone to seasickness, the organizers have also built three “fan villages” that will provide accommodation on the outskirts of town.
The migrant worker dilemma of the World Cup in Qatar
– Source: CNN
This includes a variety of accommodation – including caravans, caravans and even camping experiences – and all are within reasonable distances of the venues.
For those who can afford a bit more, luxury yachts will dock at the Doha port, which can offer berth for, let’s face it, an extortionate price.
FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon-neutral World Cup as world governing body football continues its pledge to make the sport greener.
Together with Qatar, it has committed to offsetting carbon emissions by investing in green projects and purchasing carbon credits – a common practice used by companies to “offset” the impact of a carbon footprint.
Qatar, the world’s largest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide, has said it will keep emissions low and remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as the tournament produces by investing in projects that capture greenhouse gases.
For example, the planting of 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees will seed the world’s largest peat farm.
The plants will be installed in stadiums and elsewhere across the country and are expected to absorb thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
However, critics have accused the organizers of “greenwashing” – a term used to snub those who try to cover up their environmental and climate damage with green initiatives that are either wrong, misleading or overblown.
According to Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a non-profit advocacy group specializing in carbon pricing, Qatar’s calculations are grossly underestimated.
At Qatar 2022, female referees will referee a men’s World Cup match for the first time.
Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart were all named among the 36 officials selected for the tournament.
They will be joined by Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina and American Kathryn Nesbitt, who will travel to the Gulf nation as assistants.
Frappart is arguably the most famous name on the list, having made her name in the history books in 2020 by becoming the first woman to officiate a men’s Champions League game.
But Mukansanga from Rwanda wants to learn from her in Qatar.
“I would look at what the referees are doing just to copy their best stuff so that one day I would be there at the World Cup like that,” she said, adding that her family can’t wait to see theirs attitude to the playing field.
It has not yet been decided when the women will referee their first game at the tournament, but some new rules need to be enforced.
For the first time, teams can field up to five substitutes, and managers can now choose from a squad of 26 players instead of the usual 23.
Qatar 2022 is scheduled to start on November 20th. You can follow CNN’s coverage of the World Cup here.