Fifa World Cup

Fifa World Cup 2022: Four games a day to be played in group stage in Qatar

LONDON (Reuters): World Cup fans will be able to watch an unprecedented four games a day on television, spread out over 11 hours, during the group stage of the Qatar 2022 tournament after the schedule was confirmed on Wednesday.

With the relatively short travel distances for the venues in and around Doha, it could be possible for fans who travel to the 32-team tournament to attend multiple games each day.

The early games will kickoff at 1300 local (1000GMT) with the fourth match starting at 2200 local (1900GMT) and finishing just before midnight.

The tournament’s opening game on Nov. 21, will be at the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium, with its distinctive ‘tent’ style covering.

The final on Dec. 18 will be held at the 80,000 Lusail Stadium, which, like Al Bayt, will also host a semi-final.

“The World Cup is always a festival of football, a real celebration for the fans who come on-site and watch. In Qatar, with the compact nature, this is going to be amplified even more with 32 teams and 32 sets of supporters all in and around Doha,” said FIFA Chief Tournaments and Events Officer, Colin Smith.

FIFA will wait until the draw for the tournament is held in March or April of 2022 before assigning specific games to venues and time-slots. That will enable them to better align games with time zones for domestic television partners of the competing teams.

The tournament was switched from it’s usual June-July slot due to the heat in the Gulf state and is the first that will be held in the middle of the European season.

Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the Qatar World Cup organising company, said plans for the tournament were well on schedule with 90% of the work finished on roads and infrastructure.

“When we talk about the stadiums, more than 85% of the work has been completed and really now, the last two years, we’re focusing on our operation readiness and making sure we get the fan experience plans in place,” he said.

AP adds: FIFA released the schedule for the first World Cup to be played in November and December on Wednesday, with kickoff times at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT), 4 p.m. (1300 GMT), 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) and 10 p.m. (1900 GMT).

”Once the pairings are known, the possibility will be discussed of providing a more beneficial kickoff time for audiences at home, or indeed for fans in Qatar with regard to the stadium allocation,” FIFA said in a statement.

Host Qatar will open the Middle East’s first World Cup in the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium at 1 p.m. on Nov. 21. The final starts at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium. Those are the same kickoff times from the last World Cup in Russia.

Eight venues in close proximity to Doha will be used at the tournament, which will be played in 28 days rather than the 32 days used in Russia to minimize the disruption to the European season. Teams and fans will not need to fly around Qatar because stadiums are within a 30-mile radius.

Both semifinals – like some games in the previous rounds – will kick off at 10 p.m. and will spill over into the next day if there is extra time, or even just long injury and VAR delays in regular time.

There is no space for a gap without games between the group stage and round of 16.

Most teams will get three days of rest between games, which FIFA said was ”optimum for sporting performance.”

But teams in two last-16 matches will only have two days of rest. For the third-place playoff, one losing semifinalist will have two recovery days while the other has three.

FIFA is looking to stage the draw for the tournament in late March or early April 2022, when 30 of the 32 finalists will be known.

It is the last World Cup with 32 teams before the expansion to 48 nations at the 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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