The 2022 FIFA World Cup was the 22nd edition of the world's most prestigious football tournament, but it was also one of the most unique and controversial ones in history.
From the bidding process to the hosting conditions, from the schedule to the results, the Qatar World Cup was unlike any other before. Here are some of the ways that it stood out from the previous editions.
The first World Cup in the Arab and Muslim world
Qatar was awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup in 2010, beating out bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States. It was the first time that a World Cup was held in the Arab and Muslim world, and only the second time in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. Qatar's bid promised to showcase the culture and hospitality of the region, as well as to use the event as a catalyst for social and economic development.
However, it also faced criticism and allegations of corruption, human rights violations, environmental damage and security risks.
The first winter World Cup
One of the biggest challenges of hosting a World Cup in Qatar was the climate. The average temperature in Qatar during June and July, when the tournament is usually held, is around 40°C (104°F), which is considered unsafe for players and fans. To avoid this problem, FIFA decided to move the event to November and December, which are cooler months in Qatar. This was the first time that a World Cup was held during winter, which caused disruption to the international football calendar and clashes with other major sporting events. The tournament was also shortened from 32 to 29 days, with four matches per day during the group stage.
The most compact World Cup
Another distinctive feature of the Qatar World Cup was its compactness. Qatar is a small country, with a land area of about 11,600 km^2^ (4,500 mi^2^), which is smaller than Connecticut or Belgium. This meant that all eight venues were within a radius of about 55 km (34 mi) from Doha, the capital city. This made it easier for fans to travel between stadiums and enjoy multiple matches per day. It also reduced the carbon footprint of the event, as Qatar used renewable energy sources and sustainable technologies to power and cool the stadiums.
The most diverse World Cup
The Qatar World Cup was also notable for its diversity and inclusivity. It featured teams from five different confederations, including four debutantes: Morocco, Panama, Iceland and Qatar itself. It also had a record number of African teams (six) and Asian teams (five) in the knockout stage. The tournament also celebrated different cultures and religions, with respect for local customs and traditions. For example, alcohol consumption was restricted to designated areas, while prayer rooms were available at all venues. The tournament also promoted human rights and social justice issues, such as gender equality, anti-racism and anti-discrimination.
The most thrilling World Cup
Finally, the Qatar World Cup was one of the most thrilling and memorable ones in terms of football quality and drama. It had an average of 2.69 goals per match, which was higher than the previous two editions. It also had some surprising results and upsets, such as Morocco reaching the semi-finals for the first time, Croatia eliminating Brazil in the quarter-finals, and Argentina beating France on penalties in the final after a 3-3 draw. The tournament also featured some outstanding individual performances, such as Lionel Messi winning his first World Cup trophy and being named the best player of the tournament, Kylian Mbappé scoring eight goals and winning the golden boot award, and Emiliano Martínez saving three penalties in the final shootout.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was a historic event that will be remembered for years to come. It showcased the best of football and humanity, while also highlighting some of the challenges and controversies that surround the beautiful game. It was a different World Cup, but also a remarkable one.