The 2022 World Cup gets underway in exactly one year's time.

The tournament has courted controversy ever since its hosting rights were awarded, but it promises to be quite the spectacle in a part of the world that has never hosted it before.

Here is everything you need to know about the finals...

Where is the World Cup being held?

The 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar. It is the first time the tournament will be held in the Middle East

The finals will be staged in five cities: Al Wakrah, Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Lusail, and the capital, Doha.

Qatar is the smallest country ever to host the World Cup. With a surface area of 11,500 square kilometres, it is the 158th largest country in the world and can be traversed in roughly two hours.

A peninsula nation whose economy is powered by oil and natural gas, Qatar has been constructing what FIFA describes as "some of the most eco-friendly and architecturally advanced sporting facilities ever seen" ahead of the tournament.

When does the tournament take place?

The 2022 World Cup will be held from November 21 until December 18, with 64 matches played. The time frame has been slightly condensed because of the impact a winter World Cup will have on many of the world's domestic seasons.

The opening match takes place at Al Bayt Stadium on November 21, with the group stage finishing on December 2. The round of 16 begins the following day.

The quarter-finals will be held on December 9 and 10, with the semi-finals on December 13 (at Lusail Stadium) and December 14 (at Al Bayt Stadium).

The third-place play-off is on December 17 at Khalifa International Stadium, with the final on December 18 at Lusail Stadium.

 

What are the venues?

The tournament is being held across five city regions: Al Wakrah, Al Khor and Lusail contain one stadium each, with two in Al Rayyan and a further three in Doha.

The venues and their capacities are:

Al Rayyan
Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium: 44,000

Education City Stadium: 45,350

Al Khor
Al Bayt Stadium: 60,000

Al Wakrah
Al Janoub Stadium: 40,000

Doha
Al Thumama Stadium: 40,000

Ras Abu Aboud Stadium: 40,000

Khalifa International Stadium: 40,000

Lusail
Lusail Iconic Stadium: 80,000

 

 

Which teams have qualified?

At the moment, the following teams have qualified for the finals:

Qatar (automatically qualified as host nation)

Denmark

Germany

Brazil

France

Belgium

Croatia

Spain

Serbia

England

Switzerland

Netherlands

Argentina

 

Why is it controversial?

The bidding process for the hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has been beset by allegations of corruption.

Although a FIFA investigation cleared Qatar of wrongdoing, Swiss federal prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into the awarding of the two tournaments as part of a wider probe into alleged criminal activity concerning some former FIFA executives.

Concerns have also been raised about the treatment of migrant workers used in the massive construction projects for the tournament. Amnesty International said labourers in Qatar were subject to abuse, inhuman working conditions and little pay, describing "a playground for unscrupulous employers" in September 2019.

In response, Qatari authorities changed their employment law after entering a partnership with the UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) aimed at reforming their labour policies. The introduction of a new minimum wage and a commitment to end the 'kafala' system, which made it impossible for workers to change jobs without their employer's permission, were welcomed by the ILO and Amnesty International.

The decision to stage the World Cup during the Northern Hemisphere's winter was taken due to the extreme heat common in summer in Qatar. However, moving the tournament to November and December, when the European club season is at its busiest, will create a knock-on effect for 2022-23.

The Premier League, for example, plans to take a seven-week break between November 13 and December 26 to accommodate the World Cup, while the Champions League final is set to be pushed back into June. There are concerns about the physical toll the prolonged season will have on players; Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow described it as a "crazy idea".

Canada took a giant stride towards qualifying for their first World Cup since 1986 after Cyle Larin's brace led them to a 2-1 win over rivals Mexico in frosty conditions in Edmonton on Tuesday.

Larin struck either side of half-time, the victory seeing Canada leapfrog the United States and Mexico into top spot in CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying with 16 points from eight games.

The result condemned Mexico to back-to-back qualifying defeats, after Friday's 2-0 loss to USA, leaving El Tri third on 14 points.

USA are second on 15 points following their 1-1 draw in Jamaica earlier on Tuesday.

Canada went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa failed to hold Alistair Johnston's long-range effort, with Besiktas forward Larin swooping on the rebound.

Larin doubled Canada's lead in the 52nd minute, cushioning a right-foot volley from Stephen Eustaquio's free-kick.

Mexico pulled a goal back in the 90th minute via Hector Herrera's header, ensuring a frantic finish before Jorge Sanchez squandered a golden opportunity from point-blank range as Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan saved his chested effort.

The United States missed the chance to reinforce their lead at the top of the CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying standings after a 1-1 draw away to Jamaica on Tuesday.

West Ham's Michail Antonio equalised in stunning fashion for Jamaica midway through the first half after Timothy Weah's 11th-minute opener in Kingston.

USA remain top with 15 points from eight games, moving one point clear of Mexico, who play rivals Canada away later on Tuesday, as Jamaica climbed to fifth with seven points.

Lille forward Weah had surged into the left of the box, before firing home the opening goal in off the post from a tight angle.

Antonio netted his second goal in three games 11 minutes later, working his way into space before bending home an unbelievable effort into the top-right corner from 30 yards.

Jamaica's Fulham attacker Bobby Decordova-Reid had the best chance of the second half but inexplicably skied over the bar from close range, while Damion Lowe had a late headed goal disallowed for a push.

Christian Pulisic came off the bench to fuel the United States' 2-0 win over rivals Mexico in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Friday.

Pulisic, who is still regaining full fitness after an ankle injury, entered the blockbuster showdown in the 69th minute and the Chelsea star broke the deadlock five minutes later in Cincinnati.

After being dropped in September for breaching USA's COVID-19 protocol, Weston McKennie scored the decisive second with five minutes remaining before team-mate Miles Robinson was sent off in the final minute of regulation.

The result means USA – who missed the 2018 World Cup – draw level on points with Mexico but move ahead on goal difference at the top of the standings after seven games, having snapped El Tri's unbeaten start in qualifying.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel admitted he is concerned about Christian Pulisic being overused by the United States during the international break.

Pulisic has made just two substitute appearances for Chelsea since sustaining an ankle injury while away with USA in September.

The 23-year-old played 16 minutes in last week's Champions League win at Malmo and the final five minutes of Saturday's 1-1 draw with Burnley in the Premier League.

He came through those games unscathed and will now link up with his national team for their World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Jamaica over the next eight days.

However, Tuchel has urged caution as Pulisic battles to overcome the persistent ankle problem that has restricted him to just four club appearances in 2021-22. 

"I think you can see from the minutes he's had, then the questions of whether he's at his peak level are answered," Tuchel said.

"It will take time with Christian because he's been out for such a long time this season, but he is easing his way back in and is doing well.

"I hope that the US national team are responsible with him and they don't overuse him too much in the international fixture.

"Christian still feels a little bit of pain but of course, he absolutely wants to come back to full fitness and at his peak level of performance that he's shown before.

"It's a matter of managing the pain in his ankle, not a matter of a reinjury or anything like that. It's just that things are still a bit painful for him.

"He desperately wanted to come back and we need him back, because he's a big player for us. 

"He's tried so hard when he's come on in recent games and it was a good start for him in Malmo, and then the 10 minutes or so he got against Burnley.

"I have to say, we are always a little worried when our players go away with the national team. 

"It's out of our control but there is also a responsibility for Christian to not get carried away and try too much."

Pulisic has featured 81 times for Chelsea in all competitions since arriving from Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2019-20 season, starting 53 of those games.

The 23-year-old has scored 18 goals and assisted 11 more across that period, a direct goal involvement tally of 29 that is bettered only by Mason Mount (35) and Tammy Abraham (38) among Chelsea players.

He is expected to add to his 40 caps for USA in their upcoming double-header and, while Tuchel remains apprehensive, he hopes Pulisic will return to Stamford Bridge fitter.

"I understand that playing for your country is emotional and he will want to give everything to help his country win a super important match," Tuchel said.

"Hopefully the minutes will elevate him for when he returns to us and he will be in a better place physically."

Fabinho praised the impact made by Raphinha since arriving in the Premier League and says he expected the Leeds United winger to join Liverpool earlier this year.

Raphinha has starred for Leeds since arriving from Rennes for a reported £17million (€20m) in October 2020 and was rewarded with his first cap for Brazil last week.

The 24-year-old further enhanced his reputation with two goals, while also winning a penalty, in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Venezuela.

He also featured as a second-half substitute in Brazil's stalemate with Colombia and is in contention to play a part in Thursday's clash with Uruguay.

Fabinho, who played a full the full 90 minutes in those two previous matches, has been particularly impressed by what he has seen from his international team-mate at club level.

"Since he arrived in the Premier League, has been performing and standing out very well at Leeds," Fabinho told reporters.

"Even in the summer transfer market, there was some talk that he could go to Liverpool. I even expected that to happen, but he stayed at Leeds."

Indeed, Raphinha's agent Deco has confirmed Liverpool showed an interest in the winger during the most recent transfer window without making a formal move.

"He's an important player," Deco told Brazilian outlet O Globo. "There are certainly several clubs that like him, and Liverpool do like him.

"There were approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season."

That interest from Liverpool came on the back of a debut campaign in English football that saw Raphinha score six goals and assist nine more in the Premier League.

Only five others assisted more goals in the division last term, and while he has yet to set up a goal this campaign, his expected assists return of 1.81 ranks him among the top five players.

The ex-Sporting CP attacker already has three league goals to his name in 2021-22, coming from 24 shots, while only four others in the league have attempted more dribbles than his 37 – a list topped by Wolves' Adama Traore (61).

With Raphinha poised to feature for Brazil some 36 hours before Leeds' meeting with Southampton, however, Marcelo Bielsa faces being without his most influential attacker this weekend.

"There is no doubt that it's a short turnaround," Bielsa said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday. 

"The options he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after participating in it and how efficient his rest in the next 36 hours is.

"Considering that a third of those hours he will spend on a flight and if there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries, then we won't risk it. There are so many aspects to consider that I can't offer you any certainty either way."

Hector Moreno and Raul Jimenez helped Mexico re-claim their three-point lead in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a 2-0 win away to El Salvador on Wednesday.

Moreno headed in Jesus Corona's 30th-minute corner before Mexico star Jimenez rounded out the win with a penalty in the third minute of stoppage time.

Hirving Lozano put an early chance wide, while Osvaldo Rodriguez also pushed a header off target before Moreno broke the deadlock with a glancing effort which crept in at the back post.

Both sides were then reduced to 10 men, with El Salvador losing Mario Jacobo to a straight red card for a foul on Rogelio Funes Mori in the 48th minute.

Mexico saw Nestor Araujo sent off with 23 minutes remaining for a second bookable offence, ruling him out of next month's crucial qualifier against the United States in Cincinnati.

Wolves' Jimenez cushioned the victory with his late spot-kick having returned to the national team last month after suffering a serious head injury in November last year.

The win moved unbeaten Mexico to 14 points after six games, three points ahead of USA, who came from behind to beat Costa Rica 2-1 earlier on Wednesday.

The United States came from behind to beat rivals Costa Rica 2-1 in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

Sergino Dest scored a stunning goal as a youthful USA side overturned an early deficit to bounce back from their shock loss in Panama – the nation's first defeat during the 2022 qualifying campaign.

With an average age of 22 years and 229 days, USA's starting XI was the youngest fielded by the country in a World Cup qualifying fixture midweek.

USA faced an early test in Columbus after Keysher Fuller's volley found a way past goalkeeper Zack Steffen and into the back of the net in just the first minute.

A moment of brilliance from 20-year-old Dest restored parity for Gold Cup champions USA in the 25th minute – the Barcelona full-back drifted onto his left foot on the edge of the penalty area and fired a powerful strike into the top corner.

Gregg Berhalter's USA completed their comeback with 24 minutes remaining at Lower.com Field.

Costa Rica's Leonel Moreira – who replaced Keylor Navas at half-time – was unable to keep out Timothy Weah's shot at the near post.

USA moved level with arch-rivals Mexico on 11 points before El Tri face El Salvador on the road to Qatar 2022.

Barcelona are awaiting news on the extent of the hamstring problem sustained by Ronald Araujo while away on international duty with Uruguay.

The 22-year-old was injured during the second half of his national side's 3-0 loss to Argentina on Sunday and has been ruled out of Thursday's World Cup qualifier with Brazil.

Barcelona confirmed on Tuesday that Araujo, who has made 48 appearances for the club in total since his debut in October 2019, will now return to Catalonia to undergo further tests.

Araujo has appeared in all nine of Barca's games this season – seven in LaLiga and two in the Champions League – totalling 615 minutes on the field.

Only Marc-Andre ter Stegen (630), Frenkie de Jong (676), Sergio Busquets (734) and Memphis Depay (809) have featured more regularly under Ronald Koeman this term.

Araujo's passing accuracy of 93.59 per cent is the second-best of any defender to have played at least six times in LaLiga this term, behind Real Madrid's Nacho (93.82).

Koeman's side face Valencia on their return to LaLiga action on Sunday and have a huge showdown with Real Madrid to come the following week, with a Champions League tie against Dynamo Kiev sandwiched in between. 

 

Mexico moved top of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of 10-man Honduras on Sunday. 

It was not a routine fixture for Mexico, who lost at home to Honduras during qualifying for the 2014 and 2008 World Cups, but El Tri were up to the challenge at Azteca Stadium. 

The victory put Mexico on 11 points through five matches, three points clear of the United States and Panama after the USA's shock defeat in Panama City earlier on Sunday.

Sebastian Cordova opened the scoring in the 18th minute, driving home a shot from seven yards out with Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez out of position after a scramble around the goal. 

Four minutes into the second half, Honduras saw any realistic hopes of a comeback dashed when Maynor Figueroa drew a straight red card for a challenge on Raul Jimenez.

Rogelio Funes Mori provided a welcome cushion in the 76th minute, collecting a rebound from an Edson Alvarez shot that went off the post and driving it home for Mexico's second goal. 

Hirving Lozano sealed the win 10 minutes later as Mexico poured it on through the final whistle on the road to Qatar 2022.

 

Panama celebrated a famous win as Sunday's 1-0 victory gave them their first CONCACAF World Cup qualifying triumph over the United States.

USA entered the away fixture unbeaten in eight World Cup qualifiers against Panama, including six wins, and enjoying a 13-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

But Panama had other ideas thanks to Anibal Godoy, whose 54th-minute header secured an unlikely victory in Panama City on the road to Qatar 2022.

In wild scenes, Godoy – who plays in MLS for Nashville – headed home Eric Davis' corner at the near post.

It was a rough outing for Gold Cup champions USA, who appeared out of sorts having failed to produce a single shot on target throughout the fixture at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

Panama are now level with leaders USA and Mexico on eight points, though El Tri are due to face Honduras on Sunday.

Mexico and Canada played out a 1-1 draw in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying as El Tri failed to beat their emerging North American rivals for the first time in 13 years.

Not since 2008 had Mexico been unable to defeat Canada, a run of five consecutive victories across all competitions.

Mexico were forced to share the spoils with fellow unbeaten side Canada at the Azteca on Thursday after Jonathan Osorio cancelled out Jorge Sanchez's 21st-minute opener before half-time.

The result left Mexico level on eight points alongside the United States atop the standings in the final round of qualifying on the road to Qatar 2022, two points ahead of third-placed Canada through four matchdays.

Tata Martino's Mexico opened the scoring through Sanchez, who controlled Hirving Lozano's pass beautifully before finishing past Maxime Crepeau.

Canada were not overawed away from home – Alphonso Davies almost restored parity in the 31st minute but the ball was cleared from the Bayern Munich star's feet at the last moment with the goal at his mercy.

Osorio did equalise for Canada three minutes prior to the interval, finishing expertly beyond Guillermo Ochoa having been played through by Davies.

The second half was eventful, with play halted momentarily due to crowd chants, while Canada defender Alistair Johnson headed the ball onto his own crossbar as Ochoa produced an important save 12 minutes from the end.

The United States have found a new goalscoring star as Ricardo Pepi's brace inspired a 2-0 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. 

USA teenager Pepi now has three goals in two international appearances after the 18-year-old scored on his debut against Honduras last month on the road to Qatar 2022.

Playing before a home-state crowd in Austin, Texas on Thursday, the El Paso native and Dallas star cemented his newfound status as the central figure in USA's attack in the absence of Christian Pulisic. 

After the United States failed to score in the first half for the seventh successive game, Pepi found the net in the 49th minute with a header from seven yards out off a cross from Sergino Dest. 

In-demand teenage sensation Pepi followed that up in the 62nd minute by putting home a cross from Brenden Aaronson with his right foot, Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake having no chance to make the save as the former came clean through the middle of the defence. 

Pepi's heroics shifted the spotlight away from referee Reon Radix, who drew the ire of the home side by failing to show red cards when Jamaica players hauled down USA attackers who appeared to have a clear path to goal in the first and 33rd minutes. 

USA ultimately did not need help after dominating throughout the game, with 61 per cent of possession and seven shots on goal to Jamaica's one. 

After a second successive win following two road draws to open the final round of qualifying, USA – a point clear of Mexico before their clash with Canada – next travel to Panama on Sunday, while Jamaica host Canada the same day. 

 

 

 

 

The United States scored four unanswered goals in the second half to celebrate their first victory in 2022 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a 4-1 rout of Honduras.

CONCACAF Gold Cup and Nations League champions the USA had drawn their opening two fixtures on the road to Qatar 2022 but goals from Antonee Robinson, Ricardo Pepi, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget kick-started their campaign.

After cancelling out Bryan Moya's 27th-minute opener, the USA are third in the Octagonal standings, level on five points with Canada and Panama, and two points behind leaders Mexico.

Honduras went into the match having not beaten the USA since their 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory in 2013.

But Honduras took the lead approaching the half-hour mark thanks to a diving Moya, who glanced a header beyond USA goalkeeper Matthew Turner on Wednesday.

The USA lacked any real purpose or drive in the first half, but they emerged with renewed vigour in the second half – the visitors restoring parity within three minutes courtesy of Robinson's volley following a goal-mouth scramble.

Never in the USA's history had they drawn three consecutive matches – dating back to 1916 – and avoided doing so as teenage sensation Pepi's header gave the visitors a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

Aaronson put the result beyond doubt in the 86th minute before Lletget's goal in the third minute of stoppage time sealed a 12th successive game without defeat under Gregg Berhalter.

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