World Cup fans will be able to watch an unprecedented four games a day on television, spread out over 11 hours, during the group stage of the Qatar 2022 tournament after the schedule was confirmed on Wednesday.
With the relatively short travel distances for the venues in and around Doha, it could be possible for fans who travel to the 32-team tournament to attend multiple games each day.
– FC TV: Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– Insider Notebook: New twist in Thiago to Liverpool
– Human foosball: How to play soccer and stay socially distanced
The early games will kickoff at 13.00 local time with the fourth match starting at 22.00 local time and finishing just before midnight.
The tournament’s opening game on Nov. 21, will be at the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium, with its distinctive “tent” style covering.
The final on Dec. 18 will be held at the 80,000 Lusail Stadium, which, like Al Bayt, will also host a semifinal.
Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the Qatar World Cup organising company, said plans for the tournament were well on schedule with 90% of the work finished on roads and infrastructure.
“When we talk about the stadiums, more than 85% of the work has been completed and really now, the last two years, we’re focusing on our operation readiness and making sure we get the fan experience plans in place,” he said.
“The World Cup is always a festival of football, a real celebration for the fans who come on-site and watch,” FIFA chief tournaments and events officer Colin Smith said. “In Qatar, with the compact nature, this is going to be amplified even more with 32 teams and 32 sets of supporters all in and around Doha.
“FIFA will wait until the draw for the tournament is held in March or April of 2022 before assigning specific games to venues and time-slots. That will enable them to better align games with time zones for domestic television partners of the competing teams. The tournament was switched from it’s usual June-July slot due to the heat in the Gulf state and is the first that will be held in the middle of the European season.”
The tournament draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to be pushed back by two months after FIFA rescheduled qualifying playoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FIFA said in June its council agreed to delay an intercontinental four-team playoff — from March 2022 to June that year — due to fixture congestion.
The 32-team tournament draw was planned for April 2022, likely in Doha. The earliest option is now to hold it in June ahead of the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 tournament.
FIFA has agreed to a $1.5 billion relief plan to help with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global game.
FIFA’s plan means it will dip into its reserves to provide national federations with a number of grants and interest-free loans to cope with budget hits.
Information from Reuters contributed to this report.