The FIFA World Cup seems to be very important and not just to the most faithful football fans. The international men’s football championship contested by the senior national teams of the member associations of FIFA takes place every four years and it appears that some of us become football fans just for those few weeks.
For those of you, who associate the FIFA World Cup with watching games in a beer garden outside, here’s a twist. For the first time ever, the competition will take place from late November to mid-December. And yes, so far all the other 21 tournaments were in the warmer months of May, June and July. So why the change? The answer is simple: weather.
This year’s World Cup games will all be hosted by Qatar. The first time in the Cup’s history will they be in the Arab World; and only second time entirely hosted in Asia (after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan). And this is why, due to Qatar’s intense summer heat, this World Cup will be held from 20th November to 18th December, culminating on Qatar National Date.
The current World Cup champion- France- is on the list of 32 countries competing this year. Here is the full list:
The country not included in any of the groups is, of course, Russia. But the interesting fact is that the Russian Team was initially banned from the tournament by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) in late 2019. This ban was effective until 16th December 2022. But after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s participation was further thrown into doubt. On 24 February, the three teams in Russia’s qualifying path — Czech Republic, Poland, and Sweden — announced their unwillingness to play any matches in Russian territory. On 27th February 2022, FIFA announced a number of sanctions impacting Russia’s participation in international football and the following day Russia was fully suspended from international competitions “until further notice”, including its participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Luckily, England did qualify and will be playing in group B. And so, may the best team win, as the fans gather to watch the games. Maybe we can swap the cold beer outside for a mulled wine in front of a fireplace as we come together to show our support. And, guys, a piece of advice: don’t forget to find time for Christmas shopping!