World Cup 2022 Stadiums & Stats

world cup
Deutsche Bundespost via Wikimedia Commons

The FIFA World Cup is nicknamed ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ because, in footballing terms, that’s exactly what it is. If the Champions League is the pinnacle of club level football then the World Cup is as good as it gets as far as international football is concerned.

This section of the website is dedicated to telling you all about the World Cup and the stadiums that will be used throughout the next tournament in Qatar 2022. We’ll tell you about its history, the most famous tournaments, the rules of qualification and participation and the types of stadiums that have been used to host finals in years gone by. Since 1930 the World Cup has been the highlight of international football and we’ll be letting you know all about why that’s the case.

If you would like to see the shortlist of potential stadiums for the 2026 World Cup, split between USA, Canada and Mexico, visit our World Cup 2026 stadiums page.

Group Stages

Group A

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
SenegalvNetherlands21st Nov, 10:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
QatarvEcuador21st Nov, 16:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium
QatarvSenegal25th Nov, 13:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
NetherlandsvEcuador25th Nov, 16:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
EcuadorvSenegal29th Nov, 15:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
NetherlandsvQatar29th Nov, 15:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium

Group B

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
EnglandvIran21st Nov, 13:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
USAv?21st Nov, 19:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
?vIran25th Nov, 10:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
EnglandvUSA25th Nov, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium
?vEngland29th Nov, 19:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
IranvUSA29th Nov, 19:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium

Group C

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
ArgentinavS Arabia22nd Nov, 10:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
MexicovPoland22nd Nov, 16:00DohaStadium 974
PolandvS Arabia26th Nov, 13:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
ArgentinavMexico26th Nov, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
PolandvArgentina30th Nov, 19:00DohaStadium 974
S ArabiavMexico30th Nov, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium

Group D

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
DenmarkvTunisia22nd Nov, 13:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
Francev?22nd Nov, 19:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
Tunisiav?26th Nov, 10:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
FrancevDenmark26th Nov, 16:00DohaStadium 974
?vDenmark30th Nov, 15:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
TunisiavFrance30th Nov, 15:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium

Group E

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
GermanyvJapan23rd Nov, 13:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
Spainv?23rd Nov, 16:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
Japanv?27th Nov, 10:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
SpainvGermany27th Nov, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium
JapanvSpain1st Dec, 19:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
?vGermany1st Dec, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium

Group F

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
MoroccovCroatia23rd Nov, 10:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium
BelgiumvCanada23rd Nov, 19:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
BelgiumvMorocco27th Nov, 13:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
CroatiavCanada27th Nov, 16:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
CroatiavBelgium1st Dec, 15:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
CanadavMorocco1st Dec, 15:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium

Group G

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
SwitzerlandvCameroon24th Nov, 10:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
BrazilvSerbia24th Nov, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
CameroonvSerbia28th Nov, 10:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
BrazilvSwitzerland28th Nov, 16:00DohaStadium 974
SerbiavSwitzerland2nd Dec, 19:00DohaStadium 974
CameroonvBrazil2nd Dec, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium

Group H

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
UruguayvSouth Korea24th Nov, 13:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
PortugalvGhana24th Nov, 16:00DohaStadium 974
South KoreavGhana28th Nov, 13:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
PortugalvUruguay28th Nov, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
GhanavUruguay2nd Dec, 15:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
South KoreavPortugal2nd Dec, 15:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium

Future Rounds

Round of 16

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
?v?3rd Dec, 15:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium
?v?3rd Dec, 19:00Al RayyanAhmad bin Ali Stadium
?v?4th Dec, 15:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
?v?4th Dec, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium
?v?5th Dec, 15:00Al WakrahAl Janoub Stadium
?v?5th Dec, 19:00DohaStadium 974
?v?6th Dec, 15:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
?v?6th Dec, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium

Quarter Finals

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
?v?9th Dec, 15:00Al RayyanEducation City Stadium
?v?9th Dec, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
?v?10th Dec, 15:00DohaAl Thumama Stadium
?v?10th Dec, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium

Semi Finals

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
?v?13th Dec, 19:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium
?v?14th Dec, 19:00Al KhorAl Bayt Stadium

Third Place Play Off

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Loser S1vLoser S217th Dec, 15:00Al RayyanKhalifa International Stadium

World Cup 2022 Final - Sunday 18th December 15:00

FixtureUK KO TimeCityStadium
Winner S1vWinner S218th Dec, 15:00LusailLusail Iconic Stadium

World Cup 2022 Stadiums

Lusail Iconic Stadium

The Building Process

Built by by HBK Contracting and China Railway Construction Corporation as a joint-venture, construction on the Lusail Iconic Stadium began on the 11th of April 2017. The concept for the stadium was a secret for a long time, not least of all because of the general secrecy surrounding the World Cup in Qatar. The enabling works began in 2015, with new roads and metro lines being built in order to ferry passengers there for matches. It was designed by Foster and Partners with the help of boutique architecture firm MANICA Architecture.

By the January of 2021, the stadium’s overall build was 77% complete, whilst the turf that would be used for the pitch was being nurtured ready for transportation to the venue. The overall building of it was completed by December of that year, with the various parts of it being tested in order to prove that it was good to go for matches. It wasn’t just the stadium that needed to be built, with an entire city being constructed in order to house it. This included golf courses, theme parks and 22 hotels to welcome visitors for the tournament.

Main Features

lusail stadium

Boasting an almost perfectly circular footprint, the stadium has a capacity of 80,000. That makes it not only the largest sports stadium in Qatar but also the largest in the Arab region. It has a zero carbon footprint and uses solar power to cool it. It is divided into two halves thanks to the fact that it sits on the masterplan’s primary axis. A circular pool of water encircles it, with six bridges crossing this ‘moat’ to give spectators access.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The Lusail Iconic Stadium will be used to host ten different matches during the World Cup. This includes both a Round of 16 match, a Quarter-Final, a Semi-Final and the Final itself. Perhaps the most exciting match that it will host during the Group Stage is that taking place between Argentina and Mexico in Group C.

Trivia

Following the World Cup, the Lusail Iconic Stadium will see its capacity reduced by 40,000 seats. The excess seating will be removed entirely and used for outdoor seating in new homes, whilst other parts of it will be re-purposed. The likes of cafés, community spaces and shops will take up the newly created space. It is intended that athletic and eduction facilities will also be built at the stadium, whilst a health clinic is also planned.

Stats:

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group C, Group G, Group H
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Final
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 10
  • Capacity - 80,000
  • Opened - 2021
  • City - Lusail

Al Bayt Stadium

The Building Process

al bayt stadium under constructionItalian construction specialists Webuild S.p.A won the contract to build the Al Bayt Stadium with Comolai in 2015. When the original plans were submitted to FIFA in 2010, the venue had room for 45,000 fans. That changed over the years prior to construction getting underway, so that it now has room for 60,000. Taking up 200,000m², it was designed by Salini Impregilo and building work began in 2015. The tent feature of the stadium is made of polytetrafluoroethylen, using the traditional colours of red, white and black.

The foundation work, as well as the building of the 12-metre lower tier walls, neared its completion by November of 2016. It was necessary to excavate and de-water the area before installing huge sections of pipe connections. A total of 21 cranes worked on the site, including a 280 tonne mega crane. The stadium columns needed to be erected before most of the rest of the ground, reaching 21 metres. Secondary columns, reaching a height of 37 metres, were built next. Pre-cast elements had to be put in place before other building works could be carried out.

The roof structure’s assembly and installation began in September of 2017. Manufactured in Italy, it was transported to Qatar to be installed in place at the stadium. Other parts of the stadium were also constructed in Europe, such as the facade, which was made in Germany before being shipped to Turkey. There, it was cut and transformed in order to become installation-ready ahead of its shipment to Qatar installation. Bin Omran Trading & Contracting and Al Sulaiteen Agricultural & Industrial Complex have been responsible for the landscaping around the ground.

Main Features

al bayt stadium in morning light

The main aspect of the Al Bayt Stadium is the fact that it is designed to look like a giant tent, inspired by the Bedouin tents, Bayt Al Sha’ar, that are used by nomads in the Gulf region. Tent-like structures envelop the exterior, allowing for excellent acoustics. The stadium also boasts a retractable roof, which can close within 20 minutes and will allow the best cooling conditions for football matches to be played in. There are three tiers of seating, with two of them being pre-cast structures and the other made of modular structural steel.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The Al Bayt Stadium will be used to host eight matches during the World Cup, with the opening game of the tournament amongst them. For England fans, the most noteworthy game at the ground will be the one between the Three Lions and the United States, scheduled to take place on the 25th of November. For everyone else, the match to watch out in the Group Stage is surely that between Spain and Germany two days later. A Round of 16, Quarter-Final and Semi-Final match will also be played here.

Trivia

Al Bayt Stadium has been built using a modular design that enables it to be dismantled after the World Cup. The top tier of seating, which makes up about 30,000 seats, will be removed and sent to other countries in order to allow the construction of new sports grounds in developing nations. What is left will be converted into a stadium for the local Al Khor community. The upper concourse, meanwhile, will become a hotel, with a shopping centre, restaurants and shops. The local community will be able to use landscaped tracks for cycling, running and horse riding.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group A, Group B, Group E, Group F
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Semi-Final
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 8
  • Capacity - 63,439
  • Opened - 2021
  • City - Al Khor

Stadium 974

The Building Process

stadium 974 opening
يلا كورة, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fenwick Iribarren Architects came up with the concept for Stadium 974, which is situated on an artificial promontory on a 450,000 square-metre waterfront site. Originally known as the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, it took on its current name on account of the fact that it uses 974 shipping containers in its building, as well as that being Qatar’s international dialling code. The modular design of the ground allowed for reduced construction costs and a quicker build time. On top of that, material waste was much lower than for other stadiums as a result of the nature of the design.

The stadium was built with gaps between the seats in order to allow for natural ventilation, limiting the need for artificial cooling. The fact that the ground is close to the sea also facilitates this. Environmental preparations began in October 2017, with earthworks being completed by the July two years later. At this point, the first batch of shipping containers arrived ready to be installed. The main building works began in November of 2019, with the main structure being completed by March of 2021. Built on a rectangular plan with rounded edges, it is divided into two levels.

Main Features

ras abu aboud stadium

There is no question that the shipping containers make up the main feature of Stadium 974. They aren’t just there to take up space, either; the shipping containers are where visitors will find the likes of bathrooms and concessions stands. Indeed, some of them even contain the staircases that are used to get from one floor to the next. In order to prove the environmentally friendly nature of the stadium, a portion of the containers were used to ship over other aspects of the ground before being put in place themselves.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

Stadium 974 will be used for the Group Stage and a Round of 16 match, but it isn’t going to host any of the other knockout rounds. As a result, there aren’t really any genuinely thrilling matches that are going to be held here. The Round of 16 game will be between the winner of Group G and the runner-up in Group H, who might have played here if it ends up being Portugal, Ghana, Brazil, Switzerland or Serbia. France versus Denmark is probably the pick of the Group Stage matches hosted here, which tells you quite a lot.

Trivia

The entire point of Stadium 974 is that it was designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Both the shipping containers and the seats will be dismantled in order to be used in under-developed countries around the world. It is the first time that a temporary venue has been used in the history of the FIFA World Cup. The Global Sustainability Assessment System awarded the ground a four-star rating. The lack of requirement for cooling technology as well as the efficient design means that the stadium’s water usage is about 40% less than other grounds.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group C, Group D, Group G, Group H
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Round of 16
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 7
  • Capacity - 40,000
  • Opened - 2021
  • City - Ras Abu Aboud

Al Thumama Stadium

The Building Process

al thumama stadium at night lit up
Md Nahid Islam Sumon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built on a 51.54 hectare site about 12 kilometres from the main airport in Qatar, the Al Thumama Stadium’s design was inspired by the woven headgear won by Arab men, the gahfiya. It has a circular design, symbolising Qatar’s youth as well as the country’s growth on the global sporting scene. A joint-venture from AlJaber Engineering and Tekfen Construction, who were appointing in February of 2017 to be the main contractors, it was designed by a subsidiary of the Arab Engineering Bureau, Ibrahim Jaidah Architects and Engineers.

The stadium’s design was also assisted by Fenwick Iribarren and Schlaich Bergermann Partner, with Hilson Moran brought in to offer environmental consultancy services. Grading and levelling works were carried out by Boom Construction, allowing for the foundations to be set prior to the construction getting underway. The stadium is surrounded by a 50,000 m2 public park. As with numerous other grounds being built for the World Cup, its construction has been criticised by Amnesty International on human rights grounds.

Main Features

al thumama stadium at night lit up

Promising to be a fusion of Arab cultural heritage and modern architecture, the stadium was the first one to use the cooling technology that will be in place at other grounds during the World Cup. The pattern on the roof is what is linked to the headgear that inspired the ground’s design. It includes tracks for athletics, equestrian events and cycling, with facilities also available for basketball, handball, tennis and swimming, amongst other sports.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The most significant match that will be hosted by Al Thumama Stadium is unquestionably the Quarter-Final game between the winners of Match 55 and the victors in Match 56. It will also be the ground that hosts the Round of 16 match between the winners of Group D and the runners-up in Group C. From a political point of view, there is no question that eyes will be on the ground when Iran go up against the United States, so social media users can expect a deluge of ‘hot takes’ when that comes around.

Trivia

The A Thumama Stadium was given the MIPIM/Architectural Review Future Project Award in the Sports and Stadium category in 2018. During the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021, the ground was used to host six games, including the semi-final between the hosts, Qatar, and Algeria. Algeria won 2-1, going on to win the competition when they defeated Tunisia 2-0 after extra-time.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group A, Group B, Group E, Group F
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Quarter-Finals
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 8
  • Capacity - 40,000
  • Opened - 2021
  • City - Al Thumama

Education City Stadium

The Building Process

education city stadium under construction
Staff Sgt. Bethany La Ville, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on the outskirts of Doha, Education City Stadium was built with 20% of green materials. As a result, it is considered to be one of the world’s most environmentally friendly sports grounds. JPAC JV was the building contractor, with Pattern Design appointed as the lead architect after an initial design by FIA Fenwick Iribarren Architects, whilst Buro Happold brought in as the engineering head. Nicknamed the Diamond in the Desert, it boasts an odd look thanks to diamond-shaped areas on its exterior.

The first stadium in the world to earn a five-star rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System programme, it has a large amount of concrete structure within its design. The plastic seats were the last things to be put in place, along with the turf that makes up the pitch. The design was done in order to meet FIFA’s requirements for a bowl-shape, as well as necessary lighting and decent sight lines. There was a necessity to keep up with the fast-paced nature of the programme to be ready in time for the World Cup.

Main Features

education city stadium

Open to the sun and wind, the size of the roof opening means that the stadium is exposed to sunlight and gusts or warm air. That forces the cool air out, but the nature of things means that the cool air returns within five minutes. This cool air is released from air distribution boxes, known as plenums, that are located under the seats. The nature of the stadium is such that the carbon footprint has been reduced, whilst the design makes use of passive elements. It has been built at a lower level than the natural area, adding to the temperature controls.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The Education City Stadium will be used for the Group Stage, in addition to a Round of 16 match and a Quarter-Final game. The diluted nature of this World Cup is such that there are no real standout matches in the Group Stage of the competition, which is only likely to get worse as more teams are added to the tournament in the future. Perhaps South Korea’s game against Portugal is one of the more interesting ones, with Poland versus Saudi Arabia like to be a close one for all of the wrong reasons.

Trivia

The Education City Stadium should have hosted the third-place match and the final of the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, as well as Liverpool semi-final in the competition. Sadly, it wasn’t ready in time and so Liverpool’s game was moved elsewhere. It was used for that competition a year later, however, with Bayern Munich and UANL playing the final there. It also hosted the East and West Zone matches during the 2020 AFC Champions League, in addition to give matches when the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 was played in Qatar.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group C, Group D, Group H
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Quarter-Finals
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 8
  • Capacity - 45,350
  • Opened - 2020
  • City - Al Rayyan

Ahmad bin Ali Stadium

The Building Process

ahmed bin ali stadiumThere was already an Ahmad bin Ali Stadium where the new one has been built, but this was demolished in 2015 in order to make way for the modern version. It was hoped that as much as 90% of the rubble from the destruction could be used either in the building of the new ground or else in public art projects. Construction of the new ground began in the early part of 2016 as a joint-venture between Al-Balagh and Larsen & Toubro. Things moved quickly to begin with, allowing for the pouring of the first concrete five weeks ahead of schedule.

Over the course of the next few years, more than 100,000 metres cubed of concrete as well as 6,700 tonnes of structural steel was used in the building of the stadium. As well as building the venue, there was a need to improve the local area, with connecting roads to shopping centres and other services needing to be built. When you consider that the original stadium was built in the early 2000s, it shows how much work has gone into preparing for the 2022 World Cup that it was demolished and re-built over four years.

Main Features

ahmad bin ali stadium in qatar
Mohaguru, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the main additions to the stadium was a large ‘media facade’, which uses a membrane to act as a screen for score update, commercials and news to be broadcast onto. With more than 40,000 seats, it is worth noting that all of them will be under shade for the duration of matches.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The stadium will be used for Group B matches, which means that it is of note for fans of England and the United States. Both of them will play matches here, but it is likely to be the game between Belgium and Croatia that will gather the most attention. The latest stage of the competition held here will be the Round of 16, seeing the winners of Group C go up against the runners-up in Group D.

Trivia

The upper level of seats will be removed in the wake of the World Cup. They will be sent to less developed countries to allow them to host football tournaments in the future. It was one of two venues used to host FIFA Club World Cup matches in 2020, hosted four matches during the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021 and was opened exactly two years before the start of the 2022 World Cup.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group B, Group E, Group F
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Round of 16
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 7
  • Capacity - 40,740
  • Opened - 2003 (Old Stadium), 2020 (Rebuild)
  • City - Al Rayyan

Khalifa International Stadium

The Building Process

khalifa international stadium renderingThe Khalifa International Stadium is the oldest stadium in Qatar, having opened its doors for the first time in 1976. It was renovated in 2005 and then improved again between 2014 and 2017. It was mainly used for football ahead of the 2005 changes, though it is capable of hosting other sports. As an example, it has hosted the Doha Diamond League track and field competition since 1997. In order to modernise the ground in time for the World Cup, a host of renovations were carried out in the mid-2010s, which included adding seating capacity.

Other upgrades that the stadium enjoyed included the introduction of advanced cooling technologies, which will be crucial for matches to be able to take place safely and comfortably. Increased security measures were brought in, as well as a new LED lighting system. The entire stadium was renovated and overhauled, whilst a new roof was also built. Viewing sight lines were improved, whilst two VIP seating areas were installed in the West Stand and the East Stand. There are also 61 hospitality suites that have been built for the tournament.

Main Features

Entrance of Khalifa National Stadium against blue sky in Doha

Perhaps one of the biggest changes that has been introduced to the stadium ahead of the World Cup in 2022 is the use of LED lights. This brings it in-line with many of the stadiums around Europe. Away from the stadium itself, the multi-purpose ground stands amidst the Doha Sports City, which includes the Hamad Aquatic Centre, Aspire Academy and Aspire Tower.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

The Khalifa International Stadium will be used as the venue for the third-place play-off, which is the latest stage of the competition that will take place there. For England fans, as well as lovers of football-based hot political takes, the game between the Three Lions and Iran will take place there on the 21st of November. Other interesting matches include the one between Germany and Japan and the game featuring Japan and Spain. In addition to the Group Stage and the third-place play-off, it will also host the Round of 16 match between the winners of Group A and the runners-up of Group B.

Trivia

Named after Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar, it hosted all 15 matches for the 11th Gulf Cup in 1992. Some of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup matches were played here, whilst five of the FIFA Club World Cup games took place in the stadium. That included the final between Liverpool and Flamengo, which Liverpool won 1-0.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group A, Group B, Group E, Group F
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Third-place Play-Off
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 8
  • Capacity - 45,416
  • Opened - 1976 (Renovated 2017)
  • City - Doha

Al Janoub Stadium

The Building Process

AFC Champions League Final at Al Janoub Stadium
Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Formerly known as the Al-Wakrah Stadium, the Al Janoub Stadium saw ground broken in 2014. That was one of the earliest moments that a new stadium’s construction got underway ahead of the World Cup 2022. Designed by Zaha Hadid and her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, it was created to sit in the heart of the urban extension of the nearby city. Inspired by the sails of Dhow boats, which are used by the regions pearl divers, the roof was created to resemble a ship’s hull. The opaque roof and wall areas sit as pleated cross-sections.

It was designed alongside a new precinct of the city, putting it in the centre of things. Built as a joint-venture between MIDMAC, Sixco and PORR Qatar, the entire project was managed by KEO International Consultants. There are eight air handling units that have been placed either side of the pitch in order to keep it cool during matches. There are also plenums that run under the seats so as to keep spectators cool. The roof weighs 378 tonnes and measures 92 metres. This ‘oculus beam’ is 50 metres above the pitch.

Main Features

al wakrah stadium concept

The most striking thing about the Al Janoub Stadium is the retractable roof. It can close in approximately 30 minutes, with the process of building it taking 40 days. It was built on temporary frames before being lifted into the correct position. The cooling technology will also be a big feature, being state-of-the-art and using more than 100 air ventilation units.

Significant Matches / Stages It Will Host

It is fair to say that there aren’t many thrilling matches taking place at the Al Janoub Stadium. That, of course, is something of an ever-green statement for the rest of the grounds in use, simply thanks to how much the World Cup has been diluted thanks to FIFA’s decision to allow more and more teams to take part in it. Ghana versus Uruguay might have some spice to it, largely thanks to Luis Suarez’s infamous handball that took place in the 2010 World Cup to knock the Africans out and see Uruguay into the semi-finals.

Trivia

The building is supposed to look like upturned dhow hulls that would provide shelter to the sailors. The retractable roof is made from PTFE fabric and cables, with the arches being 230 metres long. In theory, the cooling system will keep temperatures at 18 degrees centigrade in the stands and 20 degrees centigrade on the pitch. After the World Cup, it will be the home of Qatar Stats League side Al-Wakrah SC, with about half of the 40,000 seats being removed and sent to other countries in the wake of the tournament. It is part of a sports complex, which also includes swimming pools, spas and a shopping centre.

Stats

  • What Groups Will The Stadium Be Used For? - Group D, Group G, Group H
  • Highest Stage The Stadium Will Be Used For - Round of 16
  • The Number Of Matches Hosted - 7
  • Capacity - 40,000
  • Opened - 2019
  • City - Al Wakrah

Tournament Format

Qualification

Qualification for the World Cup involves tournaments within the tournament. It is decided in advance how many teams will be competing in the tournament proper, with 32 being the number taking part since 1998. The initial stages of qualification, then, are about thinning down the field from 211 countries eligible to get involved to the amount needed to head to the finals.

FIFA is broken up into six different continental zones. These are, namely, Africa, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Asia, Oceania and Europe. How many teams qualify from each zone for the World Cup is decided in advance and is based around the relative strength and competitiveness of of the teams in each confederation. The only team to get an automatic place in the tournament proper is the host nation; since 2006 not even the previous tournament’s winners get a free pass. If two or more nations jointly host the World Cup then they both get a place.

Using the 2022 World Cup as an example UEFA, the European body, will have 13 places available, with Russia qualifying as the host nation. CAF, for Africa, will have 5 places whilst AFC, for Asia will have 4, plus Qatar who qualify as hosts. CONMEBOL, the South American governing body, will also have four berths in the final and CONCACAF, the North and Central American and Caribbean organisation, will have 3. Finally, there will be 2 places in the finals for winners of play-offs between the top team from the OFC, the Oceanic body, and additional teams from CONCACAF, AFC and CONMEBOL.

Just to add further confusion to the whole thing, each confederation is allowed their own format of qualification for the World Cup finals. In 2014, for example, here’s a rough guide to how each governing body went about awarding the places for the tournament to the countries in their jurisdiction:

FIFA Confederations
FIFA Confederations - By EOZyo (Based on File:BlankMap-World6,_compact.svg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Continental Confederation Qualification Formats
AfricaA preliminary round narrowed the possible teams from 52 to 40 before these teams played each other in round-robin matches in 10 groups of 4 teams. The 10 winners played against each other at random, with the winners of those games qualifying for the finals.
AsiaTwo knockout rounds reduced the 43 eligible teams to 20. A group stage then pitted 5 groups of 4 teams against each other with the winners and runners-up going into two groups of 5. The winners and runners-up of that group went to the World Cup and the two third-placed teams faced each other for a spot in an inter-confederation play-off.
EuropeThe 53 eligible teams were split into 9 groups. The group winners qualified for the World Cup and the best 8 runners-up played two-legged ties against each other, with the 4 winners qualifying too.
North and Central America and the Caribbean Preliminary matches reduced the 35 teams that were eligible to 30. 24 teams played in 6 groups of 4, with the 6 strongest teams from the 30 receiving byes. The 6 winners joined them in a second group stage. Those 12 teams played in 3 groups of 4 and the top two teams from each advanced to a final group of 6. The top three teams went to the World Cup and the fourth placed team entered the inter-confederations play-off.
OceaniaThe 2011 Pacific Games decided which teams would advance to a group stage to play with New Zealand. That was called the 2012 OFC Nations Cup and the winner entered the inter-confederations play-off.
South AmericaThe least complicated confederation, South America had a single group of all the nations that didn’t qualify automatically - or everyone except Brazil, basically. The top four teams went to the finals and the fifth placed team entered the inter-confederations play-off.

The Group Stage

The format of the World Cup as it currently is has been in place since 1998. Once the 32 teams for the finals have been chosen by their respective confederations they are split into eight different groups, each containing four nationals teams. Eight teams get seeded for the group stage, with the hosts getting seeded automatically and the other seven teams seeded according to a complicated formula that works out the FIFA World Rankings of the teams and their previous World Cup performances.

The eight seeds are each put into a pot for the group draw, with the remaining 24 teams separated into the different pots based on based on their geographical location. Teams are drawn from each pot at random to decide the make-up of the different groups. No group will feature more than two European teams or more than one team from the other confederations.

The group is then played out in a round-robin style ‘mini-tournament’, during which each team plays three games against the other teams at random venues somewhere in the host nation. The final group game takes place at the same time in order to ensure no team has an advantage of knowing whether or not they’ve made it our of the group before a ball is kicked. The top two teams of each group make it through to the knockout stage of the tournament.

The Knockout Stages

Unlike with most knockout tournaments, the path to the competition’s final is worked out before the World Cup itself begins. It is decided in advance that the winners of Group A will play the runners-up of Group H, for example. The winners of Group B will play the runners-up of Group G and so on. That means that teams often know that they will get an easier draw in the last-sixteen phase of the competition if they qualify for the knockout stages as group winners.

The knockout stage is a series of one-off matches, with the outcome of the game decided on the day of the match without the need for a replay. That means that if the game is a draw at the end of 90 minutes of play then it will go a period of extra-time. If the result is still undecided then a penalty shoot-out will take place.

As the route to the final has already been decided before the knockout stage gets underway teams know who they may face in the quarter-finals. For example, the winner of Match A will play the winner of Match H etc. That system continues all the way to the final, with the semi-final matches worked out in the same manner. The knockout matches will, as is the habit in tournaments, result in just two teams left standing who will compete in the final.

The Final

Germany 2014 World Cup Winners
Germany 2014 World Cup Winners - By Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa copa2014.gov.br Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil ([1]) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The two teams that were victorious in the semi-final stage go up against each other in the World Cup final. This is the showpiece event of the entire tournament and is regularly watched by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Just like with the earlier rounds, the final of the World Cup is a one-off match that will not go to a replay. The winner of the tournament is decided on the day, with extra-time and penalties employed if necessary.

Unlike with most tournaments in club football, the third and fourth placed teams are also decided in the World Cup. This involves the two teams that lost in the semi-final stage playing against each other. The winner of this game is declared to have finished third and the loser finishes fourth. The loser of the final itself is the second-placed team and, somewhat self-explanatorily, the World Cup winners are the first-placed team.

Previous Winners

YearHostFinal ResultStadiumAttendance
2026US / Mexico / Canada-v----
2022Qatar-v----
2018RussiaFrancevCroatia4-2Luzhniki Stadium78,011
2014BrazilGermanyvArgentina1-0 AETEstádio do Maracanã74,738
2010South AfricaSpainvHolland1-0 AETSoccer City84,490
2006GermanyItalyvFrance1-1 5-3POlympiastadion69,000
2002S Korea / JapanBrazilvGermany2-0International Stadium69,029
1998FranceFrancevBrazil3-0Stade De France80,000
1994USABrazilvItaly0-0 3-2PRose Bowl94,194
1990ItalyGermanyvArgentina1-0Stadio Olimpico73,603
1986MexicoArgentinavGermany3-2Estadio Azteca114,600
1982SpainItalyvGermany3-1Bernabéu90,000
1978ArgentinaArgentinavHolland3-1 AETEstadio Monumental71,483
1974GermanyGermanyvHolland2-1Olympiastadion75,200
1970MexicoBrazilvItaly4-1Estadio Azteca107,412
1966EnglandEnglandvGermany4-2 AETWembley93,000
1962ChileBrazilvCzech3-1Estadio Nacional69,000
1958SwedenBrazilvSweden5-2Råsunda Stadium51,800
1954SwitzerlandGermanyvHungary3-2Wankdorf Stadium60,000
1950,BrazilUruguayvBrazil2-1Estádio do Maracanã174,000
1938FranceItalyvHungary4-2Stade Olympique de Colombes45,000
1934ItalyItalyvCzech2-1 AETStadio Nazionale PNF50,000
1930UruguayUruguayvArgentina4-2Estadio Centenario 80,000

KEY: AET - After Extra Time, P - Penalty Shoot Out, , - Not Played During WWII

Home Nation Results

CountryAppsGamesWinsDrawsLosesHighestGoals FGoals AHosted
England1569292119Winners (1966)91641 (1966)
Wales15131Quarter Finals (1958)440
Scotland8234712Group Stage25410
N. Ireland313355Quarter Finals (1958)13230

World Cup Stats

Tournament Statisitics
First Year1930
Number Of Teams Competing32
First WinnerUruguay (1930)
Last WinnerFrance (2018)
First HostUruguay (1930)
Last HostRussia (2018)
Next HostsQatar (2022), USA / Mexico / Canada (2026)
Prize Money Winner$38 million (2018)
Runners-Up$28 million (2018)
Third Placed Team$24 million (2018)
Total Prize Money$791 million (2018)
Team / Country Stats
Record Number TitlesBrazil (5)
Runners-upGermany (8)
Most Top Three FinishesGermany (12)
Most World Cup AppearancesBrazil (21)
Tournament Debut ChampionsUruguay (1930), Italy (1934)
Most WinsBrazil (73)
Most Goals ScoredGermany (226)
Most Goals ConcededGermany (125)
Biggest Win All RoundsHungary 9 - South Korea 0 (1954), Yugoslavia 9 - Zaire 0 (1974), Hungary 10 - El Salvador 1 (1982)
Biggest Final WinBrazil 5 - Sweden 2 (1958), Brazil 4 - Italy 1 (1970), France 3 - Brazil 0 (1998)
Player Stats
Top Scorer FinalsMiroslav Klose (16)
Top Scorer QualifyingAli Daei (35)
Most Goals In A Single TournamentJust Fontaine (13)
Most Goals In A Single Finals GameOleg Salenko (5)
Most Goals Scored In A Qualifying GameArchie Thompson (13)
Most Tournaments Played3 - Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthaus (Germany)
Youngest Player To ScorePele (17 years 7 months 27 days)
Oldest Player To ScoreRoger Milla (42 years, 1 month, 8 days)

About the World Cup

In The Beginning

Estadio Centenario
Estadio Centenario, 1930 World Cup Stadium in Uruguay - By Archivo de El País ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The first international match of any kind was played between Scotland and England in Glasgow in 1872. The first international tournament also involved those teams as well as Wales and Ireland when the British Home Championship was played in 1884. The game’s popularity grew throughout the world during the late part of the 19th Century and at the 1900 and 1904 Summer Olympics matches were played as a ‘demonstration sport’, with no medals being awarded to participants.

FIFA was founded as an organisation in 1904 and in 1906 they attempted to arrange a tournament against international teams that was outside the framework of the Olympics. It didn’t really work and is largely considered to be a failure. The 1908 Summer Olympics in London saw football recognised as an official competition in the tournament for the first time, though it was only for amateurs. By 1914 FIFA finally accepted that the Olympics’ football tournament wasn’t going anywhere so they recognised it as a ‘world football championship for amateurs’ and agreed to be responsible for the event’s management.

The 1920 Summer Olympics saw the world’s first intercontinental football tournament, as Egypt went up against fourteen European teams and Belgium ran out as the overall winners. Two more Olympic Games football tournaments took place in 1924 and 1928, with Uruguay winning both of them. Such was the popularity of these tournaments that FIFA decided that they wanted a piece of the action. Still smarting from their own failed tournament in 1906, the organisation set about trying to make sure they got it right this time.

Given that Uruguay had won the last two football tournaments in the Summer Olympics it seemed only right that FIFA should ask them to host the inaugural ‘World Championship’. Jules Rimet, the organisation’s president at the time, was the major driving force behind this new World Cup and for a time it looked like it might be another failure. The cost of travelling to South America was prohibitive for European teams and up until two months before the start of the tournament it looked like none would be going.

Eventually Rimet was able to persuade Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia to head to Uruguay for the competition, with seven South American teams and two North American teams joining them in the contest. The hosts beat Argentina 4-2 in the final in Montevideo and over 93,000 people saw them become the first ever winners of the World Cup. The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles and the lack of popularity of football in America meant that it was dropped from the IOC’s list of sports that would be competed at the event. Two more World Cups took place in 1934 and 1938 as the competition became more prestigious than football in the Olympics, but the 1942 and 1946 World Cups were both cancelled because of the Second World War and it’s aftermath.

After The War And The Competition’s Expansion

1950 Uruguay Team
1950 Uruguay Team - By Bildbyrån (AIK Fotboll) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The World Cup resumed as a contest in 1950. It was hosted by Brazil and was the first of the tournaments to feature British teams. British teams had actually not been part of FIFA since 1920 as they were unwilling to play matches against countries that they had been at war with and they were also unimpressed with the influence of foreign countries on a game that they felt they had invented. They returned to the FIFA family in 1946 and so the 1950 tournament was the first they were able to compete in. It also saw the return of Uruguay who had boycotted the previous two tournaments, with the South American country going on to beat the hosts in the final.

Between 1934 and 1978 the World Cup was competed between sixteen teams, apart from in 1938 when Austria got absorbed into Germany after the qualifying phase meaning that only fifteen teams took part. Also, in 1950, India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew meaning that only thirteen teams played. The majority of the teams that played in the World Cup were from Europe and South America. Very few participants were from North America, Asia, Oceania or Africa.

In 1982 a decision was taken to expand the competition to 24 teams. This remained the case until 1998 when it was expanded once more to allow 32 teams to take part. The idea was that more teams from the likes of Africa and Asia would be able to take part if the competition was expanded in this way. Whilst that is exactly what happens, European and South American teams continue to dominate the World Cup to this day.

1966 And All That

world cup 1966
By National Media Museum from UK [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Speak to any Englishman about the World Cup and only one thing will be on their mind. In 1966 England hosted the World Cup finals for the only time in the competition’s history to date. The hosts finished top of their group and qualified for the knockout stages with Uruguay. They were drawn to play Argentina in the quarter-finals and bear them 1-0 at Wembley, earning the right to face Portugal in the semi-finals after they’d beaten North Korea 5-3 in the quarters. England won 2-1, putting them through to the final of the World Cup for the first time.

In the other strand of matches West Germany had beaten Uruguay 4-0 in the quarters and the Soviet Union 2-1 in the semis, setting up a clash between the old enemy that would be the ultimate showdown on a football pitch for the first time since the end of the Second World War. With Portugal beating the Soviet Union 2-1 for third place the stage was set for a blockbuster final and neither team disappointed.

Helmut Haller gave West Germany the lead after just 12 minutes before Geoff Hurst equalised 6 minutes later. Martin Peters thought he’d won it for the home nation when he struck after 78 minutes, but Wolfgang Weber struck just a minute from the whistle being blown to send the game to extra-time.

Extra-time was a close affair up until Hurst scored to put England 3-2 up. Or did he? Even to this day there remains some controversy over Hurst’s goal which was awarded after the ball struck the crossbar and appeared to cross the line. Computers have since been used to reconstruct the event, which was the last World Cup final to be broadcast in black and white, and they suggest it didn’t cross the line. Regardless Hurst struck again two minutes before the end of extra-time to put the game beyond doubt and led to the match commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme, delivering a line that has gone down in folklore. As a celebratory pitch invasion began just before Hurst scored he said, “Some people are on the pitch. They think it’s all over. It is now!”

World Cup Stadiums

2014 World Cup Final
2014 World Cup Final, Germany Vs. Argentina - By Danilo Borges/copa2014.gov.br Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The host nation or nations of the World Cup suggest which stadiums will be used for the competition when they tender their bid to host the competition. In some cases, such as when Qatar host the tournament in 2022, this involves brand new stadiums that don’t exist yet being built in time for the arrival or the world’s best teams.

Ordinarily the final of the World Cup is held in the largest and most prestigious stadium in the country. When England hosted to tournament in 1966, for example, the final was held in the old Wembley Stadium with 96,924 people in attendance. The Estadio Centenario in Uruguay hosed the first ever World Cup final and 80,000 people watched the hosts bear Argentina, Whilst an incredible 174,000 supporters packed into the Estadio do Maracana in Brazil to watch the same team beat the hosts in 1950.

That is the best attended final to date, with the next closest seeing 114,600 attend the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in order to watch Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in 1986, the year that Maradona’s famous ‘Hand Of God’ goal knocked England out. Only three stadiums have held the World Cup final more than once. The Estadio Azteca did so in 1970 and 1986, the Estadio do Maracana did so in 1950 and 2014 and the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany, hosted the 1974 and 2006 finals. The most amusing name of a stadium that has hosted a World Cup final is the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, Switzerland that was used for the 1954 tournament.