World Cup 2022: When does it start, which teams have qualified and what are the groups for Qatar?
Qatar will host the 2022 Fifa World Cup later this year; the first to be hosted by an Arab country and the second held entirely in Asia. It is the 22nd edition of the quadrennial tournament, which began way back in 1930.
After losing the European Championship 2020 final on penalties to Italy, Gareth Southgate's England side will be looking to go one better on the world stage this time.
When does the World Cup 2022 start?
The tournament starts on November 20, with a match between Qatar and Ecuador. That start date is a day earlier than originally planned after the host nation, Qatar, successfully lobbied Fifa for their team to be allowed to open the tournament before any other matches were played. Originally, the opening match was going to be Senegal v Netherlands on November 21.
The final (and 64th match) will kick-off in Lusail on Qatar National Day: December 18, 2022.
The World Cup is taking place in the winter, rather than the traditional summer slot, despite Qatar's bid committee originally claiming that it would be possible to play games in fully air-conditioned stadiums amid summer temperatures of up to 50C. However, those plans were quickly scrapped and Fifa nodded through a request from the hosts to hold it at the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, something that may have affected their bid had it been part of the original proposal.
Which teams have qualified for the Qatar 2022?
From Europe: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Wales
From the rest of the world: Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Ecuador, USA, Canada, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan, Costa Rica and Australia.
England concluded their quest for qualification against San Marino on November 15. In total, 13 European teams will qualify for the World Cup finals: the winners of each of the 10 qualifying groups, plus three teams via the play-offs.
Wales edged out Ukraine for the final European spot at the World Cup after Portugal and Poland made it through the play-offs.
Gareth Bale and Wales will join Group B, which contains England, USA and Iran.
Cosa Rica edged New Zealand 1-0 in their intercontinental playoff in Doha to claim the last available berth.
What are the 2022 World Cup groups?
What are the fixtures and kick-off times?
Where is the 2022 World Cup taking place?
The tournament takes place in the State of Qatar, the smallest country in size (11,600 km2) and population (2.7 million) ever to host the World Cup. This will be its first time in an Arab and Muslim-majority country and the second time in Asia after being held 11 times in Europe, three times in North America, five times in South America and once in Africa.
What are England's chances?
While England may have come up short in their first major men's final since 1966, losing to Italy on penalties, their charge to the Euro 2020 final has shortened their odds when it comes to this year's World Cup.
Brazil are currently still many bookies' favourites, despite their Copa America defeat by Argentina, but England and France are close behind them, followed by Germany and Spain. Argentina, Belgium, Portugal and Netherlands will all be expected to challenge.
What is the format?
The World Cup grew from 24 teams (1982-1994) to 32 teams in 1998 and this will be the final incarnation of eight groups of four teams with the top two from each going through to a knockout Round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, plate match and final. From 2026, when the tournament returns to the United States, it has been expanded to 48 teams.
What times will the matches kick off?
Temperatures will still reach an average of 30C during the mid-day sun so the following kick-off times (in GMT) have been agreed for the group matches: 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. The knockout matches will kick off at 3pm and 7pm.
What venues will be used?
There are five host cities and eight stadiums, four of them in the Doha area. Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium and Al Thumama in Doha have been constructed specifically for the tournament while Khalifa International on the outskirts of the capital has been significantly upgraded.
Why is Qatar such a controversial choice?
How long have you got? Ever since it won the final round of the election in 2010, beating USA 14-8, the bid process has been blighted by evidence and allegations of corruption, leading to the resignations of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, and a wider investigation into bribery by the FBI and Swiss police that have led to multiple convictions.
Qatar has also been heavily criticised for the treatment of around 1.6 million migrant workers constructing stadiums and World Cup infrastructure projects.
Labour conditions on official World Cup sites are widely regarded to have been of a higher standard than on wider infrastructure projects but campaigners argue this does not absolve organisers or Fifa from responsibility for the plight of those affected.
Qatar has defended its progress in this area, including recent labour reforms, but has also cautioned that there was more work to do.
In addition homosexuality remains illegal in Qatar and given that inclusivity and anti-discrimination are cornerstones of Fifa's stated mission, the decision of 22 old men to award the game's marquee event to a place where LGBT fans could, by the letter of Qatar law, face prosecution makes all those proclamations of solidarity sound phoney.
Will fans be allowed in?
England supporters travelling to the World Cup will be given the opportunity to go “glamping” in the Qatar desert during the tournament as organisers look for ways to cope with the demand for accommodation.
Qatar organisers are planning on using cruise ships for 175,000 fans to stay on “floating villages” moored to harbours, and they have stepped up their plans for camp sites as an alternative to hotels near the eight venues for the finals.
The camp sites have been likened to “glamping” rather than an expedition into the great outdoors. Facilities would include toilets, showers and dining areas created on the land on the outskirts of the five cities hosting the tournament.
It is estimated by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy that more than one million people will head to the Middle East to watch the 64 matches, which will culminate in the December 18 final.
Security chiefs are planning to attend Arab Cup games to assess security as the final draws closer.
How can I get tickets for Qatar?
Tickets are available through the Fifa website, with more than 800,000 tournament tickets sold during the first and second phases which have already been and gone.
There will be a chance to buy tickets closer to the start of the tournament on a "first come, first served" basis according to Fifa, but opportunities might be scarce.
Tickets for the final can set you back from £156 to £1,223. Alternatively, there are package deals to follow your team for several matches.
This article is regularly updated with the latest information.