A Guide to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar


Graphic by Annabel Andre and Amelia Coleman

Beatriz Marteleto-Lara, Staffer

The 2022 Soccer World Cup has yet to start, but it’s already one of the most controversial Cups to date, according to BBC News. The World Cup will kick off on Nov. 20, 2022 with a match between Ecuador and Qatar, the latter being the host country. 

Many teams are in the running for champion, with Brazil leading the qualifying standings. In second is Belgium, who has never won a world cup before, and third is Argentina, who has not won a title since 1882. Behind Argentina is Germany with France–the winners of the 2018 World Cup– in fifth. This is also the first time in eight years that the U.S. men’s soccer team is going to participate in a World Cup.

While some teams qualified, only 32 teams could enter, according to Sporting News. Italy did not qualify this year, even after beating England in the European Championship in 2020. According to Junior soccer player Giovanni Villa, it’s disappointing that an important player like Italy will not be playing in the World Cup.

“Italy, being one of the best teams in the entire world, got eliminated by a small country, and that team [North Macedonia] didn’t even end up going to the World Cup,” Villa said. “They didn’t make it. It sucks to see that. That’s just how soccer is though.” 

FIFA, the organization which oversees all international soccer competitions, has also recently adjusted their system for reviewing match calls, previously done with Video Assisted Referee (VAR) technology, to now use Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT), which tracks players’ limbs and bodies instead of only playing back the video to make more accurate referee rulings. VAR itself is already a very disputed topic among fans like Junior Megan McIntosh, a player on the girl’s Varsity Soccer team at LASA. McIntosh doesn’t believe the VAR technology is being used properly.

“I have strong feelings about VAR,” McIntosh said. “I think it can be used well, but it hasn’t been used in a productive manner. I think they should regulate the use more, and it should stay an assistant referee and never be used as the main one.”

With the introduction of VAR, referees are catching many more errors that they hadn’t been able to previously. In 2019, TIME Magazine reported VAR having a 99.3% success rate, but VAR has also received criticism for often catching negligible mistakes in offside situations where it chooses the most minute details of the defensive line and offensive players. VAR and the referee’s replay in both slow motion and high-resolution quality show the foul and decide if it should be called or not. With SAOT, the video operations room will get an alert if a player is offside or if a goalie isn’t on their mark. SAOT will also send an alert the second a player comes in contact with the ball, so issues with the referee’s rulings can be fixed much quicker, in a maximum of five minutes.

In addition to new technology, the schedule for the World Cup this year is also different, with the competition starting in November instead of June due to Qatar’s intense summer heat, according to Villa. Although this decision was made for the safety of the players and fans, it messes up soccer internationally, making leagues change their schedules to incorporate the time players will be away for the World Cup– as well as the players’ need for rest– into their regular seasons. 

“Obviously, it’s really hard in some ways, but I don’t like it being in November,” Villa said. “I’d prefer it to be June or July. It’d be extremely hot having it during the summer, so I do think this was the best option, but for fans, not really.”

Recently, FIFA’s also been in controversy for allegations surrounding worker abuse in Qatar, especially with construction involving the World Cup stadium. Qatar’s blue-collar labor force–consisting of mostly migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal– are already very scarcely protected by labor laws, and the number of mysterious deaths with odd circumstances has been rising since Qatar began planning for the World Cup, according to The Guardian.

“There are a lot of problems with FIFA, and there should be more people watching out for the working conditions,”  McIntosh said. “I think there just needs to be improvements, but that requires for there to be greater awareness because a lot of people, especially in the United States, don’t know that this is going on, so that needs to happen.”

Despite the challenges and controversies surrounding the World Cup, fans like McIntosh and Villa are still looking forward to watching the event. The 2022 Qatar World Cup will start on November 20, 2022 and end on December 18, 2022. The United States will debut their first World Cup team in eight years on November 21 with a match against Wales. The game will be streamed live on Fox Sports as well as Peacock, Fubo, and SlingTV for all soccer fans to watch.