The 2022 World Cup promises to be a tournament like no other. In fact, it will definitely be different to competitions which have gone before it, without a ball even being kicked yet.
That’s because, for the first time ever, the tournament is not being held in its traditional summer spot of June and July. Instead, it is being held in Qatar in November and December, with the final taking place just a week before Christmas Day.
It is a huge format change and one which will take a fair bit of getting used to. But with the competition now just months away, why exactly is it not being played in the summer as normal? Here’s everything you need to know:
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Why is the 2022 World Cup not being played in the summer?
Since the very first tournament in 1930, the World Cup has traditionally been played in the summer, regardless of where it has been held. However, the decision to host the 2022 competition in the winter months of the northern hemisphere formed a key part of the Qatari bid.
The Qatar World Cup will be the first to be held in the Middle East after FIFA pledged to hold a major international tournament in the region before 2030. However, the incredibly high temperatures posed a real problem for the tournament going ahead in the summer.
Despite long-standing opposition to departing from tradition, feasibility studies carried out by football’s governing body concluded that the tournament couldn’t be played in June and July as normal. As a result, it was decided that this year’s World Cup would instead be held in the winter between November and December.
What is the temperature in Qatar in winter?
Anyone thinking a winter World Cup will be a chillier affair than normal can think again. In Qatar, temperatures can range between 21 and 28°C during winter months, having dropped from between 31 and 33°C during the autumn.
It is no surprise the tournament was moved from the summer either, with temperatures reaching around 43°C in June and July. In the capital Doha last year, the average temperature in August was 37°C, while the highest temperature ever recorded in Qatar is 50.4°C.
Measures are being taken to address the heat issue at this year’s World Cup, with each stadium being fitted with a “focused cooling” air-conditioning system. Using grills in the stands and nozzles on the pitch, cool air will be pumped into the stadium to keep fans and players cool.
Why is the World Cup being held in Qatar?
The decision to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been one surrounded with controversy. The nation’s bid was chosen ahead of those from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the USA, with the decision immediately leading to allegations of corruption.
Qatar promoted their hosting of the tournament as an opportunity to represent the Arab World and bridge the gap between the Arab World and the West. Disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the region “deserves a World Cup” and the committee decided to take football “to new lands” in an attempt to “develop football”, with Qatar having minimal footballing heritage.
The 2026 World Cup will be joint hosted by Canada, Mexico and the USA, while the location of the 2030 tournament is still yet to be decided. Among those likely to bid are Morocco, Spain and Portugal and a four-nation effort from Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay.
When is the World Cup 2022?
The 2022 World Cup is being held between November and December this year. The action kicks off on November 21, with Senegal taking on the Netherlands in Group A in the first game of the tournament, before Qatar make their World Cup debut by taking on Ecuador.
The knockout stages commence on December 3, with the semi-finals taking place on December 13-14. One team will get the World Cup trophy to keep as an early Christmas present, with the final being held a week before on December 18.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism