The men’s World Cup has been held 21 times since its inception in 1930, but Qatar 2022 promises to be a tournament like no other.
Ever since it was announced as the host city some 12 years ago, it has always been destined to be number one in the World Cup.
From extreme weather to the event’s debut, CNN examines how this year’s race will break new ground.
This will be the first time Qatar’s men’s national team has made it to the World Cup finals after failing to qualify through the usual means.
FIFA, the sport’s governing body, has allowed host nations to participate in the World Cup without qualifying, meaning the small Gulf nation can now take on the world’s best soccer teams.
Qatar is relatively new to the sport, having first competed in official competition in 1970, but the country has fallen in love with the beautiful game and the national team is steadily improving.
In 2004, Aspire Academy was established with the hope of discovering and developing all of Qatar’s most talented athletes.
This has paid off for its football teams in recent years. Qatar won the Asian Cup in 2019, ending one of the most memorable runs in the tournament’s history, conceding just one goal in the entire tournament.
70% of the teams that win the trophy come from the academy and this number will only increase going into the World Cup.
Under Spaniard Felix Sanchez, Qatar will look to surprise and face a relatively friendly group alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.
The World Cup has always been held in May, June or July, but Qatar 2022 will break with that tradition – more out of necessity.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach over 40C during those months, so, with that in mind, the race was moved to a cooler time.
Winters in Qatar, however, are relative terms, with temperatures still likely to be in the mid-30s, but organizers are hoping to combat the heat through a variety of methods, such as installing high-tech cooling systems in the stadium.
The shift in tournament dates has wreaked havoc on some of the biggest domestic leagues in the world.
All of Europe’s top leagues have had to fit winter breaks into their schedules, meaning the schedule is packed both before and after games.
One of the reasons FIFA gave Qatar the right to host was to be able to bring the game to a new part of the world.
None of the previous 21 World Cups has been held in the Islamic country, and this month’s World Cup will be the region’s chance to celebrate its growing love of the sport.
However, this certainly raises some questions that organizers will have to address. For many fans, drinking has been, and will continue to be, an important part of the experience at such games.
In Qatar, though, it is illegal to be drunk in public, forcing organizers to come up with creative ways to tackle the problem.
As such, alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks around Doha, and there will be separate areas for fans to sober up before and after matches.
World’s only openly gay active professional footballer focuses on LGBTQ community ahead of Qatar 2022
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Another question mark surrounding the World Cup is how the country will handle an expected influx of 1 million tourists, given it is the smallest host country with a population of just under 3 million.
As such, all eight stadiums are located in and around the capital, Doha, and are all within an hour’s drive of each other.
Organizers say transport infrastructure – including buses, subways and car rentals – will be able to cope with the increased pressure.
One benefit of the closer distance between venues is that fans can watch up to two games a day. Traffic should be friendly.
Due to its size, Qatar also has to be budget-conscious when it comes to accommodation. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are anchoring in Doha to provide some support for the hotel.
Both ships will offer the usual cruise experience, but fans will only take a 10-minute shuttle bus ride to downtown Doha.
For fans prone to seasickness, organizers have also built three “fan villages” that will provide a place to stay on the outskirts of the city.
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These include a variety of accommodation – including caravans, cabins and even a camping experience – all located within a reasonable distance of the site.
Plus, for those who can afford it, the port of Doha will be docked with luxury yachts that can offer a place to sleep, which, let’s face it, is an exorbitant price tag.
FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon-neutral World Cup, and world football’s governing body has continued its commitment to making the sport greener.
It joins Qatar in pledging to offset carbon emissions by investing in green projects and buying carbon credits – a common practice used by companies to “offset” the impact of their carbon footprints.
Qatar, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita, said it would keep emissions low by investing in projects to capture the greenhouse gas and remove as much of the championship-generated carbon from the atmosphere as possible.
For example, it will plant 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees, seeding the world’s largest lawn farm.
The plants, which will be placed in stadiums and elsewhere across the country, are expected to absorb thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
However, critics have accused organizers of “greenwashing” the event – a term used to refer to those who try to hide the damage they are doing to the environment and climate through false, misleading or exaggerated green initiatives.
Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a nonprofit that specializes in carbon pricing, said Qatar’s calculations were grossly underestimated.
Qatar 2022 will also be the first time a female referee will officiate a men’s World Cup match.
Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart were among the 36 officials selected for the competition.
Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina and American Kathryn Nesbitt will travel to the Gulf countries as assistants.
Arguably the most famous name on the list, Frappart made history in 2020 by becoming the first woman to take charge of a men’s Champions League match.
But hoping to learn from her in Qatar is Rwanda’s Mukansanga, who told CNN she is happy to accept the challenge of refereeing a major event.
“I’ll see what the referees are doing, just to replicate the best thing they do, so one day I’ll go to the World Cup like this,” she said, adding that her family can’t wait to see what she takes on. court.
No decision has been made yet on when the women’s team will officiate their first match at the tournament, but there will be some new rules that will need to be enforced.
Teams will be able to use up to five substitutes for the first time, with coaches now able to choose from a pool of 26 players instead of the usual 23.
The 2022 Qatar World Cup will kick off on November 20. You can follow CNN’s coverage of the World Cup here.