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2022 World Cup – complete guide to Qatar tournament

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The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is rapid approaching and fans around the world are getting prepared to watch every second of the biggest single sporting event in the world.

World renowned stars like Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar are set to strut their stuff in the first ever World Cup to be held in the Arab world.

Here’s everything you need to know about the World Cup’s history and the upcoming tournament in the Middle East.

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The FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament contested by men’s senior national teams of members of FIFA.

Qualifying rounds take place in the years leading up to each tournament. They are held in FIFA’s six continental zones – Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Oceania, and Europe – with the amount of qualifying spots given to each zone decided by FIFA.

Host nations have received automatic qualification for each World Cup finals tournament since the 1938 World Cup. Champions are still required to qualify for each tournament.

The international governing body FIFA was officially created in 1904 in Paris and by 1930 every affiliated country had been invited to compete in the first ever World Cup that year. It was hosted in Uruguay and subsequently had more South American sides competing than nations from Europe – only Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia travelled across the sea.

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The tournament grew from 13 participating teams to 16 in 1934, where Italy won in their homeland before retaining their title four years later in France.

The planned 1942 and 1946 World Cups were cancelled due to World War II but the tournament returned in 1950, where inaugural hosts Uruguay collected the most points from the final round to win the trophy.

World Cups have been played every four years ever since, with nations Brazil, England, Germany, France, Argentina and Spain all winning the competition in that time.

World Cup winners

Substitutions

12 substitutes can be named by managers for each World Cup game. An additional swap can be made when a match goes to extra time, regardless of whether a team has made their full quota of permitted subs already.

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Suspensions

Players who are sent off are banned outright for one game – this applies to both straight red cards and accumulation of yellows. Two bookings in separate games result in a one-game suspension.

Yellow cards are then wiped out at the quarter-final stage.

Miroslav Klose became the greatest goalscorer in World Cup finals history in 2014, when he overtook Ronaldo’s 15 goals to reach 16 for Germany.

The only current player in the top 15 is Thomas Muller, who has netted ten times for Germany on the biggest stage.

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  1. Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 16
  2. Ronaldo (Brazil) – 15
  3. Gerd Muller (West Germany) – 14
  4. Just Fontaine (France) – 13
  5. Pele (Brazil) – 12
  6. Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) – 11
  7. Jurgen Klinsmann (West Germany, Germany) – 11
  8. Helmut Rahn (West Germany) – 10
  9. Gary Lineker (England) – 10
  10. Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina) – 10
  11. Teofilo Cubillas (Peru) – 10
  12. Thomas Muller (Germany) – 10
  13. Grzegorz Lato (Poland) – 10
  14. Eusebio (Portugal) – 9
  15. Christian Vieri (Italy) – 9

The Golden Ball award is given to the best player at a World Cup and was first awarded in 1982, when Paolo Rossi’s six goals took Italy to victory in Spain.

Legendary icons like Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have all been named the best player at a tournament, with the most recent winner being Luka Modric as Croatia reached the final in 2018.

The contenders for this year may well include Messi and Modric again, though stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Neymar will be in contention if their respective nations go deep into the tournament.

Th Best Young Player award is given to the best performing young player at a World Cup tournament. It was first officially awarded in 2006, when Lukas Podolski scooped the trophy.

FIFA retrospectively named the best young players at old tournaments via an internet survey.

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The Golden Boot – previously called the Golden Shoe – is awarded to the top scorer of any given World Cup. Records show the top scorers for early World Cups, but the award wasn’t officially introduced until 1982.

If there is a tie for top scorer with the same number of goals, the tie-breaker is fewer goals scored from penalties. It is then decided on who has more assists. If there is still a tie, the tie-breaker is playing the least amount of time.

Harry Kane won the Golden Boot in Russia and will be among the favourites for the prize this winter. However, Mbappe and compatriot Karim Benzema are just two of the premier goalscorers Kane will have to fend off to be top scorer.

Dark horses include the likes of Vinicius Junior, Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku.

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The Golden Glove is awarded to the best goalkeeper at a World Cup tournament. It was initially called the Lev Yashin Award in 1994, but was later retitled in 2010. The decision is made by the FIFA Technical Study Group.

Thibaut Courtois is the current Golden Glove holder and has arguably been the in-form goalkeeper of the last two years, enjoying great success with Real Madrid at club level. Brazil are expected to reach the late stages of the tournament, so expect Alisson to be in contention.

Germany legend Lothar Matthaus has made more appearances at men’s World Cup finals than any other player with 25.

  1. Lothar Matthaus (West Germany, Germany) – 25
  2. Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 24
  3. Paolo Maldini (Italy) – 23
  4. Diego Maradona (Argentina) – 21
  5. Uwe Seeler (West Germany) – 21

Lionel Messi ought to break into the top ten this year, with the Paris Saint-Germain wizard currently sat on 19 games.

World Cups are played every four years. In 2026, the tournament will be held in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The host for the 2030 World Cup is yet to be announced.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani was the chairman of Qatar’s bid committee. Their bid received an endorsement from Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane, who said “now it is time for the Middle East” to host a World Cup.

However, the compact nature of the country and the ferocious heat seemed to make the bid appear fanciful. Qatar promoted their bid as a way of bridging the Arab and Western worlds, though human rights crimes that are still prevalent today also caused a lot of criticism.

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter then endorsed a Middle East World Cup, praising Qatar’s infrastructure and their hosting of the 2006 Asian Games.

In December 2010, it was announced the 22 executive committee members had voted to award the 2022 edition to Qatar, who had appealed to FIFA to take a “bold gamble” in bringing the World Cup to previously unchartered territory.

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Fans are able to further register their interest in tickets for the 2022 World Cup through FIFA here.

A ‘Last-Minute Sales Phase’ will take place on FIFA.com/tickets and take place from 10:00 BST on 27 September.

Over 2.45 million tickets have been sold ahead of the World Cup.

Fans travelling to Qatar have been advised to learn about the customs of the nation, with different views present on clothing, alcohol and human rights issues.

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It is illegal to drink or be drunk in Qatar, though some relaxation of this law will be in force for the 2022 World Cup. Aside from expected fan zones, alcohol can only be purchased at specially licensed premises.

Why is the World Cup in November and December?

Qatar’s summer heats make a European summer World Cup impossible, as it can hit 50 degrees. Instead, the club season will break up in November and teams will travel over to the Middle East to play the tournament in a reduced timeframe.

All eight stadiums are situated in a 21-mile radius of central Doha and are powered by solar panels farms. They are also equipped with detailed cooling systems to ensure things don’t get too hot.

Where is the 2022 World Cup final?

The final is scheduled for Friday 18 December – coincidentally Qatar National Day – and will be played at Lusail Iconic Stadium, which has a capacity of 80,000.

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Teams will be scattered throughout Qatar, staying at various hotels for the duration of their stay. Every nation also has an allocated training site to use for practice.

The exact details of the opening ceremony for the 2022 World Cup are still to be confirmed, but it will precede host country Qatar facing Ecuador on Sunday 20 November.

The draw for the 2022 World Cup took place in April, pitting nations from the different confederations against each other in the group stage.

England have been drawn against old frenemies the United States as well as local neighbours Wales and Asian outfit Iran.

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Hosts Qatar will face Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands in Group A, while defending champions France have Australia, Denmark and Tunisia to contend with in their opening three games.

Group A

Qatar
Ecuador
Senegal
The Netherlands

Group B

England
Iran
USA
Wales

Group C

Argentina
Saudi Arabia
Mexico
Poland

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Group D

France
Australia
Denmark
Tunisia

Group E

Spain
Costa Rica
Germany
Japan

Group F

Belgium
Canada
Morocco
Croatia

Group G

Brazil
Serbia
Switzerland
Cameroon

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Group H

Portugal
Ghana
Uruguay
Korea Republic

A total of 64 games will be played throughout the tournament, beginning with Qatar vs Ecuador in the tournament’s curtain-raiser.

Among the spicier encounters in the group stage will be Argentina vs Mexico – a staple fixture at World Cups – the European clash between heavyweights Spain and Germany, and Iran vs the United States, a match with added tension due to their complex geo-political relationship.

Not every World Cup kit for the 2022 tournament has been released, but almost every country has confirmed at least one shirt design.

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Mexico’s away kit is a thing of beauty while Ecuador have also earned some rave reviews, but Belgium’s year five disco flame shirt and Portugal’s awful split-screen top have gone down like led balloons.

Cor, where do we even start?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may not be seen as the two outright top players in the world anymore but both likely know this may well be their final chance for World Cup glory.

France are stacked with stars like Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, while individual stars like Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale and Sadio Mane will be hoping to lead their sides on surprise runs to the knockout stages.

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Referees from federations around the world have been called up to take charge of matches at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

The familiar faces from Premier League action are Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor, but no officials from England will be in charge of any VAR calls.

AFC

CAF

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CONCACAF

CONMEBOL

OFC

UEFA

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2022 World Cup Video assistant referees

AFC

CAF

CONCACAF

CONMEBOL

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UEFA

The mascot for the 2022 World Cup is La’eeb, a “fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all tournament mascots live,” according to FIFA.

They also say La’eeb has attended every previous World Cup tournament and has “contributed to some of the most famous moments in football history, including a number of iconic goals”.

We’re not totally convinced.

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The name ‘La’eeb’ is an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player, FIFA add.

Al Rihla

FIFA and adidas have revealed their ‘Al Rihla’ ball / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

FIFA and adidas have confirmed the new Al Rihla ball will be used at this year’s World Cup in Qatar. ‘Al Rihla’ translates as ‘the journey’ and a strong emphasis on speed was placed on the ball’s creation.

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It is also the first World Cup ball to be made exclusively with water-based inks and glues.

All World Cup games will be shown live in the United Kingdom by the BBC and ITV. Highlights of the matches will then be available on their iPlayer and ITV Hub services.

Where to watch the World Cup in the United Kingdom?

FIFA partners

FIFA World Cup sponsors

African and Middle Eastern supporters

North American supporters

South American supporters





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Barcelona still owe €50m for Miralem Pjanic & Philippe Coutinho transfers

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Barcelona are thought to still owe as much as €144m on various incoming transfers from years – including €50m on Miralem Pjanic and Philippe Coutinho alone, both of whom have actually left Camp Nou in permanent deals.

Barça made Coutinho one of the most expensive players of all time when they agreed a deal with Liverpool in 2018 worth up to €160m. But things quickly soured for the Brazilian and he spent time on loan at Bayern Munich and Aston Villa, before joining the latter for a minimal fee this year.

Pjanic, meanwhile, was part of a slightly bizarre double deal in the summer of 2020 that saw the Catalans also send Arthur Melo to Juventus.

AS has reported that Barça’s latest economic report, which is to be presented to members next months, will explain that the club has outstanding transfer fees to be paid totalling €144m.

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However, they are also owed just under €130m themselves, with plenty of modern deals arranged with staggered payment structures.

Aside from money still owed for Pjanic (€36m) and Coutinho (€14m), Barça have €46m to pay Ajax for Frenkie de Jong and Sergino Dest. There is another €52m that has to go to Manchester City for Ferran Torres. Yet Barça are yet to be paid €10m for Coutinho by Aston Villa and will also receive €6m for Trincao from Wolves in due course.

Barça’s finances are in much better shape than they were at the peak of the club’s money trouble, but Camp Nou vice president of economics Eduard Romeu confirmed earlier this week that this chapter is still not over and more has to be done.

“We have saved Barça, but we still haven’t resolved it,” Romeu explained. “We don’t have it healthy; it involves a lot of austerity, a lot of rigour and there is a lot of work to do. In the 2024/25 season we will be at the level that corresponds to us.”

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Armando Broja discusses his father’s training methods, inspirations & Albanian pride

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Armando Broja has spoken about the tireless hours his family would commit to ensuring he made it as a footballer in his youth, and what it means to be a young star representing Albania on the world stage.

Broja shot to prominence at Southampton last season, on loan from Chelsea. The forward impressed throughout the campaign and returned to west London having scored nine goals in all competitions and racking up 32 Premier League appearances.

Since returning to his parent club, the Albanian international has penned a new long-term contract with Chelsea and been integrated into the first-team, featuring for Thomas Tuchel before his dismissal as head coach.

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But the future remains bright for Broja, despite the managerial change, with Graham Potter now in the hot seat.

Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Broja credited his mentality and ability to thrive under pressure to his family, namely his father, who pushed him throughout his childhood.

“He’s always been so desperate to succeed and for his kids to succeed. Growing up, there wasn’t a minute to waste. Time was the most precious thing to him,” the striker said.

“I remember when I was young and just starting off in football, he’d come home from work late and he’d be exhausted. It might be like 10 or 11 at night and he might’ve worked a 15-hour day, but he’d always ask, ‘Armando, have you done your training today?’”

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“Obviously lyin’, I’d be like, ‘Mmm, yes?’” he added: “He’d know the truth, though, and out we’d go to the park and he’d make me run laps. Twenty times around the pitch.”

Broja went further, explaining his father’s detailed eye for his traits and progression: “When I had a growth spurt around 16, he got worried I was gonna lose my speed. Pace had always been one of my biggest strengths. So he took me out to do hill sprints for like an hour at a time.

“I was basically falling down the hill by the end and he’s there standing over me like, ‘Nah, go again. Another one. Defenders gonna catch you.’

“We joke now that my success is 50-50. Half mine, half his and my mum’s. They put in the work you don’t see. In those early years, though, the balance was waaaay more on their side.”

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Broja also discussed his inspirations, explaining that his affinity for Brazilian legend Ronaldo came from his father, after he would show him clips on YouTube.

But alongside R9, Broja namedropped Lorik Cana – the first and only Albanian to play in the Premier League before him.

It was this that fuelled his discussion about flying the flag for his nation and what it meant to represent Albania, who he earned his first senior international cap for in 2020.

“There was a moment when the England under-21s wanted me and, yeah, I thought about it and what I wanted for my future, but honestly … I didn’t have to think too long,” he explained: “I grew up in England, but I’m proud to be Albanian.

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“Every time I travel for international duty and pull on the red and black I feel this incredible pride and excitement.”

The 21-year-old added, explaining how he relishes the opportunity of being able to shoulder responsibility and expectations at a young age for his country, while also expressing his desire to fire them to a World Cup.

“You can step up and be a star. And if you do well, you can become an icon for eternity. When my career is over, I want my name to live on. For Albania. For my dad.”

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OFFICAL: Ibrahim Gusau replaces Pinnick as new NFF President

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Ibrahim Gusau arose as the new Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President replacing Amaju Pinnick.

Gusau arose as the champ at the NFF elections held in Benin City on Friday, September 30, 2022.

Following a while of vulnerability, the NFF races occurred with delegates of the world football overseeing body FIFA in participation.

There were 10 qualified contender to supplant Pinnick following eight years of his administration.

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The candidates included Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Mallam Adam Mouktar Mohammed, former VPs, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi and Mallam Shehu Dikko.

Others were Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Barr. Musa Amadu, Dr. Christian Emeruwa, Peterside Idah, Alhaji Abba Abdullahi Yola and UK-based David-Buhari Doherty.

In the initial voting results, Gusau recorded 21 votes, Akinwunmi 12 votes, Dikko six votes, Yola and Idah had one vote each.

Gusau the former Zamfara State Football Association chairman would emerge victorious and now lead the NFF for the next four years.

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