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Four years to go: Qatar on course

Posted in Sports

Published on November 23, 2018 with No Comments

In four years’ time, the Qatar World Cup will be under way.

The Gulf state’s hosting has been mired in controversy since Fifa’s shock decision to award it the tournament in 2010. From being the first World Cup staged in the winter, to whether fans can drink alcohol, here is what we know so far about Qatar 2022.

·          What time will the games kick off?FIFA is yet to decide. Qatar is three hours ahead of the UK, and kick-off times should be favourable for those watching on television. “More than three billion fans across Asia and Europe will benefit from prime-time viewing during the tournament thanks to convenient kick-off times,” Qatar’s supreme committee for delivery and legacy (SC) said.

·          How hot will it be? Hopefully a lot cooler than had it been held in the summer, when temperatures can reach 40C. The SC says the average temperature will be 18-24C, and will be “perfect” for players and fans.

·          Can fans drink? “Alcohol is not part of Qatari culture,” the SC shared with media, and it is illegal to drink alcohol in public and be drunk in public there. Alcohol is available in hotels, and that will be the case at the World Cup. It will also be on sale in other “designated areas”. What those areas are is yet to be decided, though organisers are planning fan parks. It will be up to Fifa to decide if alcohol will be available in stadiums.

With four years to go before the next World Cup opens in Qatar, the small gulf country’s national soccer team is on the rise but still has a long, long way to go.

Qatar surprisingly won the right to host the 2022 tournament eight years ago, when it was ranked 113th in the world by FIFA. On Wednesday, exactly four years before the next World Cup is scheduled to open at Lusail Stadium outside Doha, the country still will be only No. 96.

There are positives, however, including Qatar’s 1-0 victory over Switzerland last week in a friendly match — an eye-opening result against a team that reached the round of 16 at the last two World Cups.

“It’s a big win for us especially because a lot of people don’t know us,” Qatar midfielder Assim Madibo said. “I think they will know us more after this game. Now we are only focusing on playing big games so we will get respect and people will know us.”

The tournament will start on 21 November, with the final on 18 December – the national day of Qatar. That will mean a change in schedule for the Premier League and Europe’s other major leagues, as they are normally in full swing by November. One solution for Europe’s leagues could be to bring forward their winter break. UEFA said a decision on the scheduling of that season’s Champions League and Europa League will not be made until 2021. Qatar’s World Cup will be across 28 days, four fewer than the 32 of Russia 2018. There could be 16 more teams in 2022 – with proposals to expand the tournament from 32 to 48. However, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said that such a plan could create many problems.



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