The World Cup, which is being held in the Middle East for the first time in its history, will take place over a condensed 28 days, compared to the 32 days the 2018 tournament, held in Russia, was played over.
The tournament will kick off on 21 November – another first for the FIFA World Cup which is usually played during the northern hemisphere’s summer months to avoid disrupting the European domestic seasons – in a 60,000-seater stadium called “the house” in Arabic.
Unusually, the schedule squeezes four group stage matches into each day with three rest days between games in the first stages. In the knockout rounds, however, teams could have only two rest days before their next match. The final is set to kick off at 6pm local time (3pm UK time) on the 18 December in the Lusail Stadium in Doha.
Games are set to kick off throughout the day, but without crossovers, at 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm Doha time (10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm in the UK). The timings, Deputy Secretary of Qatar 2022 Nassar Al Khater told Al Jazeera, are intended to allow a maximum number of people across the world to tune in.
Al Khater said he hopes up to 3.5 billion people will be able to watch the matches. Adding, with four matches per day, and all stadiums within a 40-mile radius of each other, travelling supporters will also be able to watch more than one game each day.
The unveiling comes only days after a UN human rights report raised “serious concerns of structural racial discrimination against non-nationals in Qatar”, many of whom have been involved in the construction of football stadiums in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has termed the next tournament the “Qatar World Cup of Shame” over allegations migrant workers were “abused and exploited” by construction firms that failed to pay.
A report by the international watchdog found eight ways migrant workers in Qatar were exploited during the construction and refurbishment of some of the sites, including the Khalifa Stadium and the Aspire Zone. These included lying about and delaying salaries, forcing workers to live in cramped, unsanitary and unsafe accommodation and trapping migrants in jobs by confiscating travel documents.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, US prosecutors ruled Qatar had been awarded the 2022 World Cup unfairly, by bribing FIFA officials. It is unclear if an investigation into the bribery was opened, or if the tournament could be taken away from Qatar.