The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 — set to begin on Sunday — is held every four years and is a culmination of years of training, practice, and behind-the-scenes effort to produce the most-watched sporting event in the world.
Despite soccer’s global popularity, the sport is still growing in the United States. An eight-year hiatus from the World Cup means many fans will be watching this year who have not seen the U.S. Men’s National Team in action.
Qatar is hosting the World Cup this year. The small but energy-rich nation is situated on a Persian Gulf peninsula.
Qatar is the first Arab nation ever to host the World Cup, and the month-long competition aims to improve global opinions about the stringently religious nation.
Qatar was selected as the host country after the ruling family agreed in 2010 to allow alcohol sales at the event despite a ban on sales in the nation. Leading up to the World Cup, Qatari royal family members began to express concern about the sale of alcohol and the impact that sales would have on the country’s uncompromisingly religious residents.
On November 18, just two days before the start of the World Cup, Qatar announced that alcohol sales would be banned.
Elimination-style qualification matches that began in the summer of 2019 narrowed the field of World Cup participants to 32 nations. Of 211 nations that are members of FIFA, only the top 32 teams earn the right to play in the World Cup.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in May that the organization expects global viewership of the World Cup 2022 to be around 5 billion people. That is an increase of just over one billion since the last games were held in 2018, hosted by Russia.
To put that number into perspective, somewhere between 112 million and 208 million watched Super Bowl LVI, in which the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals. That was the second-largest viewership for any Super Bowl in history and far and away the most viewed spectacle on U.S. television last year.
The U.S. Men’s National Team will play its first World Cup match on November 21, opening the competition against Wales. It will then play against England and, finally, a match against Iran.
The World Cup teams are divided into groups of four teams based on a lottery. In World Cup play, each of the four teams plays one match against the other group members, and the two top teams advance to the next round.
Winning games is the most surefire way to advance, but it isn’t the only method of moving forward. Teams are awarded three competition points for each win, one point for each draw, and zero points for a loss.
After each group has concluded play, the competition points are added up. If two teams have identical competition points, the first manner of tie-breaking uses total goals for and against, with the team that holds the biggest differential advancing.
The four teams comprising Group B — the U.S., Iran, Wales, and England — are considered the “Group of Death,” a term used to identify the highest-rated group in the competition.
The Group of Death often includes the team that eventually wins the competition. England is expected to be the most likely 2022 World Cup victor.