FIFA confirms 2022 World Cup in Qatar will start in November

Education City Stadium general views
General view inside the Education City Stadium, which was recently completed for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar’s Supreme Committee. (REUTERS)

FIFA confirmed on Wednesday that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be unlike any seen before.

For the first time in the competition’s history, the World Cup will be played outside the months of May, June, and July, with the opening match featuring the host country set for Nov. 21, 2022, at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

The final will be played on Dec. 18 at the Lusail Stadium in Doha with an 11 a.m. ET kick-off.

This is the final World Cup that will feature eight groups of four teams during the initial round — the group stage — of the World Cup Finals.

The 2026 World Cup hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico will feature 48 teams in the group stage.

Group matches in Qatar will be played over 12 days with four matches per day. Kick-off times are slated for 6 a.m. ET, 9 a.m., 12. p.m., and 3 p.m. over the first two rounds of the group stage.

Kick-off times for the final round of group-stage matches and the knock-out round are set for 11 a.m. ET and 3 p.m.

The field of 32 teams for the 2022 World Cup is nowhere near resolved with 28 months until the start of the tournament. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, dates to start qualifying matches in major organizations like CONCACAF (United States, Mexico) and UEFA (Europe) have not been scheduled yet.