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July 16, 2020

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4 games a day agreed for Qatar WCup

The 2022 World Cup will have four games every day in a 12-day group stage and matches later in the tournament that go into extra time will extend past midnight in Qatar.

FIFA released the schedule for the first World Cup to be played in November and December yesterday, with kickoff times at 1pm (local time; 1000 GMT), 4pm, 7pm and 10pm.

“Once the pairings are known, the possibility will be discussed of providing a more beneficial kickoff time for audiences at home, or indeed for fans in Qatar with regard to the stadium allocation,” FIFA said in a statement.

Host Qatar will open the Middle East’s first World Cup in the 60,000-capacity al-Bayt Stadium at 1pm on November 21. The final starts at 6pm on December 18 at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium. Those are the same kickoff times from the last World Cup in Russia.

Eight venues in close proximity to Doha, the Qatari capital, will be used at the tournament, which will be played in 28 days rather than the 32 days used in Russia to minimize the disruption to the European season. Teams and fans will not need to fly around Qatar because stadiums are within a 30-mile radius.

Both semifinals — like some games in the previous rounds — will kick off at 10pm and will spill over into the next day if there is extra time, or even just long injury and VAR delays in regular time.

There is no space for a gap without games between the group stage and round of 16.

Most teams will get three days of rest between games, which FIFA said was “optimum for sporting performance.”

Draw for the tournament

But teams in two last-16 matches will only have two days of rest. For the third-place playoff, one losing semifinalist will have two recovery days while the other has three.

FIFA is looking to stage the draw for the tournament in late March or early April 2022, when 30 of the 32 finalists will be known.

It is the last World Cup with 32 teams before the expansion to 48 nations at the 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Meanwhile, an interim rule allowing teams to use five substitutes per match during the schedule congestion caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic was extended yesterday through next season.

Soccer’s law-making panel, known as IFAB, said the option of using two extra replacements would continue in the 2020-21 season and for national team competitions into next August, when the Tokyo Olympic tournaments end.

The decision fulfils some goals in a proposal by FIFA in April which wanted to extend the rule through 2021 for all national team games and calendar-year domestic leagues.

FIFA said its plan would help prevent some injuries caused by “potential player overload” as competitions catch up with a backlog of games.

IFAB cited “the impact on player welfare of competitions being played in a condensed period and in different weather conditions.”

Competition organizers have the option of letting their teams use five substitutes instead of three in 90 minutes, and a sixth in knockout games that go to extra time.

Teams are still limited to three stoppages of play in 90 minutes to make the changes.


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