FIFA World Cup: How Does It All Work?

The FIFA World Cup is soccer’s most prestigious tournament, matching the top 32 national teams in a monthlong tournament. This event occurs once every four years, with a host selected by FIFA’s Council. When it comes to the FIFA World Cup, how does it all work?

How Do Teams Qualify?

FIFA World Cup

Image via Flickr by US Department of State

Teams started competing for a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2019. Each region has its qualification requirements, with 31 teams and the host competing in the tournament. Europe has qualifying teams from Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, and Wales. The qualifications ran from March to November 2021 for Europe. Russia was eliminated from the tournament when it invaded Ukraine.

South America has qualifying teams from Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Uruguay. Qualifications in South America began in October 2020, after being suspended from March and September 2020. Qualifying rounds continued in June 2021 after being postponed in March 2021. North America, Central America, and the Caribbean have teams from Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States. The coronavirus pandemic moved the qualifications from September 2020 through September 2021 to a reworked schedule from March to June 2021.

Africa has five qualifying teams from Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia. Rounds for qualifying in Africa began in September 2019, with the final rounds held from September to November 2021, after being postponed from March 2020 to October 2021. Asia’s qualifying teams include IR Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, and Saudi Arabia. Qualification competition began in June 2019, with the final matches held in May and June 2021. Australia qualified in an intercontinental match in June 2022.

The 32 teams are divided up into eight groups, each with four teams. Teams prepare for participation in the World Cup by participating in International Friendlies tournaments. International Friendlies provide players with an opportunity to improve player fitness, see how teams work together, introduce new players, and try new tactics or strategies. These tournaments also let teams celebrate a special occasion, raise money to fund their program, or promote the team. International Friendlies don’t count in team rankings or player statistics. 

How Many Matches Take Place Throughout the Tournament?

The 2022 FIFA World Cup consists of 64 total matches, with 48 in the group stage and 16 in the knockout round. The group stage will take place Nov. 20 through Dec. 2, followed by the round of 16 on Dec. 3 through Dec. 6. Quarterfinals will be held Dec. 9 and 10, with semifinals on Dec. 13 and 14. The third-place match is scheduled for Dec. 17, and the finals will be held on Dec. 18.

2022 FIFA World Cup Venues

Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup across eight venues in and around Doha. These stadiums include Al Bayt, Ahmad Bin Ali, Al Janoub, Al Thumama, Education City, Khalifa International, Stadium 974, and Lusail. The venues are all located within 46 miles of each other, providing fans with an excellent opportunity to see more games than ever.

Mark your calendars for the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament, taking place from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18 in Qatar. The World Cup doesn’t limit players to amateur status or certain ages, making it a competition for the world’s best soccer players.

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