The 22nd edition of the FIFA men's World Cup will take place in November and December of 2022, a significant break from the established tradition of playing in June and July to coincide with the European club offseason. The tournament was ultimately moved due to the extreme temperatures in host nation Qatar.
The tournament will mark the first World Cup held in the Middle East, and the second in the Asian football confederation after the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan.
Record five-time winners Brazil are the favorites entering the tournament with defending World Cup champions France close behind. The likes of Argentina and England will also fancy their chances of ending long World Cup droughts.
The Sporting News brings you all the important information regarding the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
When does the World Cup start?
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin on Sunday, November 20 as host nation Qatar gets the tournament kicked off.
The tournament was initially set to begin on Monday, November 21, but FIFA changed the schedule to ensure the host nation had the spotlight as is customary.
World Cup 2022 first match
The tournament will kick off with hosts Qatar entertaining Ecuador in Group A action, with the match scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET / 4 p.m. GMT) on November 20 in Al Bayt Stadium.
It is tournament tradition that the host nation plays in the tournament's first match. And when the 2022 FIFA World Cup schedule was set back in April, it raised eyebrows when it did not include a traditional inaugural match involving host nation Qatar. Instead, the schedule at the time listed Qatar playing the second of four matches on opening day on Monday, November 21, behind Senegal vs. Netherlands.
It was only three months before the tournament kicked off that FIFA announced the change in the schedule that ensured Qatar kicked off the tournament a day earlier.
World Cup opening ceremony 2022
With the shift of the tournament's opening match to Sunday, November 20, the opening ceremony has also moved a day earlier, set to take place in the immediate run-up to the Qatar vs. Ecuador inaugural match.
The ceremony is expected to feature the tournament's official anthem, songs from the soundtrack, and the mascot of the 2022 World Cup.
The official FIFA World Cup soundtrack released its first single in April 2022, a song titled Hayya Hayya (Better Together) by American recording artist Trinidad Cardona alongside Nigerian singer Davido and Qatari singer AISHA. Lil Baby also has a single on the soundtrack with more expected.
Meanwhile, the official World Cup mascot was revealed to be La'eeb at the World Cup Draw in April 2022. "La’eeb" is an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player.
When is the 2022 World Cup final?
The 2022 World Cup final will take place on Sunday, December 18 at Lusail Iconic Stadium, with kickoff at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET / 3 p.m. GMT).
The date of the World Cup final coincides with Al-Yawm al-Watani li-Qaṭar, or the National Day of Qatar, which celebrates the nation's unification in 1878.
World Cup kickoff times
The group stage games will kick off at staggered intervals throughout the day, with the opening matches set to be played at 1 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET / 10 a.m. GMT). There are three other kickoff times that will be utilized during the group stage, with the final window coming at 10 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. GMT).
Up to four matches will be played each day in the group-stage period.
In the knockout stage, the kickoff times will be reduced to two main windows on any given matchday. Games in the knockout rounds will kick off at either 6 p.m. local time or 10 p.m. local time.
|USA & Canada |
|Group stage only||1 p.m.||5 a.m.||10 a.m.||9 p.m.||3:30 p.m.|
|Group stage only||4 p.m.||8 a.m.||1 p.m.||12 a.m.||6:30 p.m.|
|Knockouts only||6 p.m.||10 a.m.||3 p.m.||2 a.m.||8:30 p.m.|
|Group stage only||7 p.m.||11 a.m.||4 p.m.||3 a.m.||9:30 p.m.|
|Group + Knockouts||10 p.m.||2 p.m.||7 p.m.||6 a.m.||12:30 a.m.|
Why is the World Cup in November?
In a significant change from the World Cup's traditional schedule, the 2022 edition of the tournament will be held in the Northern Hemisphere's winter.
Due to the high average temperatures in Qatar during the June-July period, a decision was taken by FIFA to move the showpiece event from its usual spot on the calendar, in the hope of more temperate conditions for both players and fans.
That means the World Cup will take place smack in the middle of the August-May club season calendar, impacting domestic leagues schedules across the world, including the English Premier League and others in Europe.