Sports

A Guide to the FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup. As the biggest event in the world’s most popular sport, it’s little wonder this month-long festival of football captures the globe’s attention every 4 years. Indeed, a record 3.57 billion people tuned in to watch the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino said earlier in 2022 that he is expecting as many as 5 billion people to watch this year’s tournament. Only the Summer Olympics comes close in size, scale, and popularity; the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – which had to be postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic – generated 3.05 billion viewers around the world.

It’s been a longer wait than normal for the World Cup to return, too. Not because of the pandemic, but because this competition, traditionally held in the summer, will take place in the winter for the first time, running from 20 November to 18 December. Due to the extremely hot weather in host country Qatar – who will become the first country in the Middle East to put on this prestigious tournament – it had to be moved to later in the calendar to ensure the matches are played at cooler temperatures for the safety and comfort of the players and spectators.

Indeed, this event is not only enjoyed by billions of TV viewers at home, but also by thousands upon
thousands of dedicated fans who buy FIFA World Cup tickets to cheer on their teams in the flesh.
The tournament brings together 32 qualified nations who will battle it out to claim football’s biggest
prize. The teams have been drawn into 8 groups of 4:

Group A

  • Qatar (hosts)
  • Ecuador
  • Senegal
  • Netherlands

Group B

  • England
  • Iran
  • United States
  • 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

After each team has faced all of their opponents once, the top 2 from each group will progress through to the knockout phase, where they will be separated into a bracket and progress through the Round of 16, Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, and the Final to determine the world champions. There will also be a Third-Place Playoff between the losing semi-finalists. The complete schedule will be as follows (kick-off times are local):

Sunday 20 November

  • Qatar v Ecuador, 19:00

Monday 21 November

  • England v Iran, 16:00
  • Senegal v Netherlands, 19:00
  • USA v Wales, 22:00

Tuesday 22 November

  • Argentina v Saudi Arabia, 13:00
  • Denmark v Tunisia, 16:00
  • Mexico v Poland, 19:00
  • France v Australia, 22:00

Wednesday 23 November

  • Morocco v Croatia, 13:00
  • Germany v Japan, 16:00
  • Spain v Costa Rica, 19:00
  • Belgium v Canada, 22:00

Thursday 24 November

  • Switzerland v Cameroon, 13:00
  • Uruguay v South Korea, 16:00
  • Portugal v Ghana, 19:00
  • Brazil v Serbia, 22:00

Friday 25 November

  • Wales v Iran, 13:00
  • Qatar v Senegal, 16:00
  • Netherlands v Ecuador, 19:00
  • England v USA, 22:00

Saturday 26 November

  • Tunisia v Australia, 13:00
  • Poland v Saudi Arabia, 16:00
  • France v Denmark, 19:00
  • Argentina v Mexico, 22:00

Sunday 27 November

  • Japan v Costa Rica, 13:00
  • Belgium v Morocco, 16:00
  • Croatia v Canada, 19:00
  • Spain v Germany, 22:00

Monday 28 November

  • Cameroon v Serbia, 13:00
  • South Korea v Ghana, 16:00
  • Brazil v Switzerland, 19:00
  • Portugal v Uruguay, 22:00

Tuesday 29 November

  • Netherlands v Qatar, 18:00
  • Ecuador v Senegal, 18:00
  • Wales v England, 22:00
  • Iran v USA, 22:00

Wednesday 30 November

  • Tunisia v France, 18:00
  • Australia v Denmark, 18:00
  • Poland v Argentina, 22:00
  • Saudi Arabia v Mexico, 22:00

Thursday 1 December

  • Croatia v Belgium, 18:00
  • Canada v Mexico, 18:00
  • Japan v Spain, 22:00
  • Costa Rica v Germany, 22:00

Friday 2 December

  • South Korea v Portugal, 18:00
  • Ghana v Uruguay, 18:00
  • Cameroon v Brazil, 22:00
  • Serbia v Switzerland, 22:00

Saturday 3 December (Round of 16)

  • 1A v 2B, 18:00
  • 1C v 2D, 22:00
  • R16 1D v 2C, 18:00
  • R16 1B v 2A, 22:00

Monday 5 December (Round of 16)

  • 1E v 2F, 18:00
  • 1G v 2H, 22:00
  • 1F v 2E, 18:00
  • 1H v 2G, 22:00

Friday 9 December (Quarter-Finals)

  • W53 v W54, 18:00
  • W49 v W50, 22:00

Saturday 10 December (Quarter-Finals)

  • W55 v W56, 18:00
  • W51 v W52, 22:00

Tuesday 13 December (Semi-Final)

  • W57 v W58, 22:00

Wednesday 14 December (Semi-Final)

  • W59 v W60, 22:00

Saturday 17 December (Third-Place Playoff)

  • L61 v L62, 18:00

Sunday 18 December (Final)

  • W61 v W62, 18:00

The chance to personally witness your country play in these soccer matches is a bucket-list event for any fan. France fans will be hoping to see their team become the first nation since 1962 to successfully defend the World Cup after lifting it in 2018, England fans will be desperate to see football “come home” having last tasted success with the men’s team in 1966, and 5-time winners Brazil have been waiting 20 years since their last triumph. Given they’re now 37 and 35, respectively, this might also be the last we see of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on football’s biggest stage, and it could be their last chance to help Portugal or Argentina lift the trophy.

If you want to secure your place at the tournament, FIFA World Cup tickets are still up for grabs. Match tickets are available in 4 categories, split into different areas of each stadium and into different price points. The cheapest available are Category 4, which are located behind the goals and cost QR 40 ($11 USD), however these are reserved exclusively for Qatari residents. The cheapest tickets for international fans are Category 3 – also located behind the goals – which cost QR 250 ($69).

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