It has been 12 years since Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani lifted the Jules Rimet trophy following the announcement that Qatar would host football’s biggest event in 2022, the World Cup.
Thursday marks one month to go before kickoff in the opening game of the tournament.
Here is what you need to know about the event:
Why is the World Cup taking place in November and December?
Originally scheduled to take place during June and July, the tournament was moved to Qatar’s winter season due to the extreme heat during the summer where temperatures often exceed 40C (113F).
It does mean that some of the world’s top leagues will be put on hold for the tournament. But, according to David Beckham, a Qatar 2022 ambassador, the timing will have benefits.
“I was lucky enough to play in three World Cups and I know that I went into each one of those World Cups playing probably 50 to 60 games in the season,” Beckham told Al Jazeera in Doha. “Players are coming into this World Cup after playing 25 games. So they will be arriving fresh and excited. Their energy is going to be at the top level, so I think what you’re going to see on the pitch is probably like no other World Cup.”
What are the COVID entry requirements?
Vaccination is not mandatory for fans to enter Qatar for the World Cup. However, they will need to show a negative COVID test and then download a contact-tracing phone app called Ehteraz.
What is the Hayya card and why do you need it?
A Hayya card works as a fan ID.
It is a personalised document (accessed via an app too after logging in) issued to every ticket-holder and will need to be shown to get into any of the World Cup stadiums.
It also works as an entry permit to Qatar and will also allow holders to use public transport free of charge during the tournament. Hayya cardholders will be allowed to stay in Qatar until January 23, and will also act as a multiple-use entry visa for tourists visiting the UAE.
How many stadiums will host World Cup matches?
Eight stadiums will host matches during Qatar’s 2022 World Cup.
- Khalifa International Stadium had a complete renovation that finished in 2017. Capacity 40,000.
- Al Janoub Stadium opened in May 2019 in al-Wakrah, a half-hour drive south of the capital. Capacity 40,000.
- Education City Stadium is located in the heart of the country’s university campuses. Capacity 40,000.
- Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, a town on the northeast coast of Qatar. Capacity 60,000.
- Al Rayyan Stadium in Al Rayyan. Capacity 40,000.
- Al Thumama Stadium is the closest arena to Qatar’s main airport, Hamad International. Capacity 40,000.
- Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is a fully deconstructable sports stadium built from 974 shipping containers. Capacity 40,000.
- Lusail Stadium is located north of the capital, Doha. Capacity 80,000.
Which teams are taking part and what is the format?
Thirty-two teams will fight it out in groups of four for the first 12 days of the competition, kicking off on November 20. The top two from each of the eight groups will go through to the knock-out rounds, with the final taking place on December 18.
Group A: Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, Qatar
Group B: England, USA, Iran, Wales
Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia
Group D: France, Denmark, Tunisia, Australia
Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica
Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada
Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
What’s the deal with tickets?
A total of 3,010,679 tickets were made available, with organisers last month that more than 2.85 million had been snapped up since going on sale.
Qatar, Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States are the leading countries of residence for those purchasing match tickets.
Qatar residents were able to buy tickets for as little as 40 Qatari riyals ($11). If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to the final, you could expect to pay up to 6,000 riyals ($1,607).
Where is everyone staying?
More than 1.2 million fans are expected to travel to Qatar for the tournament.
In March, organisers launched an online accommodation portal, prioritising match ticket holders.
Apartments, hotel rooms, desert camping, villas, fan villages – and even cabins on moored cruise ships have been made available.
However, fans will also be able to stay in neighbouring countries and fly in for the matches or drive to the Saudi-Qatar border and use a free bus service to reach Doha city centre.
Concerns over shortage of accommodation have grown and, in September, the government ruled that local residents would be able to rent out their homes to World Cup fans through the tournament.
Iran, on the other side of the Gulf from Qatar, has also been working to ease visas and travel restrictions to allow World Cup fans to base themselves there.
What are the rules for fans?
- Don’t be drunk in public
- Respect local rules and culture
Nasser al-Khater, chief executive of the 2022 World Cup, has said that “everyone is welcome” in Qatar.
“Public displays of affection are frowned upon here, but that applies to everyone,” said al-Khater. “I would like to assure any fan of any gender orientation, religion or race to rest assured that Qatar is one of the safest countries in the world and that they will all be welcomed here.”
Alcohol will be available in hotel bars and selected fan zones. It will also be available in the hospitality areas of the stadiums. For permanent residents with a special permit from their employer, purchase can be made from one of the two liquor stores in the country.
What other activities are planned across Qatar?
It is not just the World Cup that’s kicking off this winter in Qatar. The country plans to treat its visitors with entertainment across the board.
- Qatar’s National Museum is showing off a multisensory exhibition by Pipilotti Rist symbolising humanity’s collective unconscious and the power of the mind.
- Mathaf, the museum of modern art in Doha, is hosting “One Tiger or Another”, exploring history as the product of fact and fiction.
- Qatar Live will host more than 60 international artists before and during the World Cup, Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Post Malone, J Balvin and Robbie Williams.
- There’s also the Daydream Music Festival, the Lusail Boulevard brand activation, the Qatar Airways Sky House, a Winter Wonderland theme park, and the naming ceremony for the MSC World Europa cruise ship
Who is providing security at the World Cup?
Qatar’s regular police and security services are drawn from many nations, just like much of the rest of its population.
In addition, Turkey’s interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said the country would send 3,250 security officers to Qatar for the World Cup. NATO has also said it would support the security operation.
Pakistan is set to send troops to help provide security, while South Korea is also sending counterterrorism specialists to assist Qatari military police.
Will we see any new technology at the World Cup?
Yes. For starters, the 2022 World Cup will introduce a radical new semi-automated offside detection system. The new technology, trialled at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi and at the Arab Cup in Qatar, utilises a limb-tracking camera system to track player movements and a sensor in the ball. It then quickly shows 3D images on stadium screens at the tournament to help fans understand the referee’s call.
Each stadium in Qatar will have 12 cameras beneath the roof, synchronised to track 29 data points on each player’s body 50 times per second. Data is processed with artificial intelligence to create a 3D offside line that is alerted to the team of VAR officials.