There have been 21 editions of the Men’s World Cup since its opening in 1930, but Qatar 2022 will be a unique tournament.
Since it was announced as the host city nearly 12 years ago, it was always destined to be a World Cup of firsts.
From extreme weather to tournament debuts, CNN takes a look at the ways this year’s competition will break new ground.
This will be the first time for the Qatar men’s national team to participate in a World Cup final, having failed to qualify in the usual fashion in the past.
FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host nation to take part in a World Cup without having to go through the qualifying rounds, meaning the tiny Gulf state can now compete with the best in world football.
Qatar is relatively new to the sport, having played its first official match in 1970, but the country has fallen in love with the beautiful game and the national team has steadily improved.
In 2004, The Aspire Academy was founded in the hope of finding and developing all of Qatar’s most talented athletes.
That has paid off for his football team in recent years. Qatar won the Asia Cup in 2019, capping off one of the most memorable runs in the tournament’s history, scoring just one goal during the tournament.
Seventy percent of the trophy-winning side came through the academy, and that number has only increased heading into the World Cup.
Led by Spaniard Felix Sanchez, Qatar will try to surprise people and will face a relatively friendly group alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.
The World Cup has always been held in May, June or July, but Qatar 2022 will break with such tradition – more out of necessity.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach over 40 degrees Celsius during those months, so with this in mind the tournament was moved to a cooler time.
However, winter in Qatar is a relative term with temperatures likely still hovering around 30 degrees, but organizers hope to combat the heat with multiple methods, such as high-tech cooling systems in stadiums.
The change in tournament dates has wreaked havoc on some of the biggest national leagues in the world.
All of Europe’s top leagues have had to work a winter break into their schedules, meaning pre- and post-tournament fixture lists are packed.
One of FIFA’s justifications for awarding Qatar the hosting rights was the opportunity to take the tournament to a new part of the world.
None of the previous 21 World Cups have been held in a Muslim country and this month’s tournament is a chance for the region to celebrate its growing love for the game.
However, it undoubtedly raises some issues that the organizers have had to address. For many fans, drinking alcohol is and remains a large part of the experience of such tournaments.
In Qatar, however, it is illegal to be seen drunk in public, forcing organizers to come up with inventive ways around the problem.
As a result, alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks around Doha and there will be separate areas for fans to sober up before and after matches.
World’s Only Openly Gay Active Professional Soccer Player Concerns For LGBTQ Community Ahead Of Qatar 2022
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Another question mark surrounding the tournament is how the country will cope with the expected influx of one million visitors, as it is the smallest country to host the World Cup with a population of just under three million.
As a result, all eight stadiums are located in and around Doha, the capital, and are all within an hour’s drive of each other.
According to the organizers, the travel infrastructure – including buses, metro and car rental – will be able to handle the increased pressure.
An advantage of the small distances between venues is that fans can see up to two matches in one day. Must be traffic friendly.
Due to its size, Qatar also had to be smart about its accommodation. Two cruise ships, the MSC Poesia and the MSC World Europa, are moored in Doha to provide some support to the hotels.
Both ships will offer the usual cruise ship experience, but fans won’t venture further than the 10-minute shuttle bus ride into the heart of Doha.
For those fans prone to a touch of seasickness, the organizers have also built three ‘Fan Villages’ that will provide a place to stay on the outskirts of the city.
These include a variety of accommodations – including caravans, portacabins, and even camping experiences – and all are within reasonable distances of the sites.
And for those who can afford a little more, luxury yachts will dock in Doha Port, offering a place to sleep for, let’s face it, an outrageous price.
FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon neutral World Cup as world football’s governing body continues its pledge to make the sport more environmentally friendly.
It pledged, along with Qatar, to offset carbon emissions by investing in green projects and purchasing carbon credits – a common practice used by companies to “cancel” the impact of a carbon footprint.
Qatar, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita, has said it will keep emissions low and remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as the tournament produces by investing in projects that will capture the greenhouse gases.
For example, it will sow the seeds for the largest turf farm in the world by planting 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees.
The plants will be placed in stadiums and elsewhere around the country and should absorb thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
However, critics have accused the organizers of “greenwashing” the event – a term used to cover those trying to cover their damage to the environment and climate with green initiatives that are false, misleading or exaggerated.
Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a nonprofit advocacy group specializing in carbon prices, says Qatar’s calculations are grossly underestimated.
In Qatar 2022, female referees will also lead a men’s World Cup match for the first time.
Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart have all been named among the 36 officials selected for the tournament.
They will be joined by Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina and American Kathryn Nesbitt, who will travel to the Gulf States as aides.
Frappart is perhaps the most famous name on the list having written her name in the history books in 2020 by becoming the first woman to take charge of a men’s Champions League match.
But in Qatar, Mukansanga of Rwanda wants to learn from her, who told CNN she was excited to take on the challenge of refereeing a major tournament.
“I would watch what the referees do, just to copy the best things they do so that one day I would be at the World Cup like this,” she said, adding that her family couldn’t wait to see her effort on the field.
It has not yet been decided when the women will referee their first match at the tournament, but there will be some new rules to enforce.
For the first time, teams can use up to five substitutes and managers can now choose from a squad of 26 players instead of the usual 23.
Qatar 2022 starts on November 20. You can follow CNN’s coverage of the World Cup here.