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On and off the pitch, what’s new at the 2022 World Cup?

Doha, Qatar – The 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup is fast approaching. The kick-off of the opening match takes place on November 20, almost 12 years to the day Qatar received the hosting rights to the tournament.

The event will feature 32 teams and attract more than 1.2 million visitors to Qatar, which will become the first country in the Middle East to host the biggest soccer tournament.

Here is a list of other firsts at this year’s World Cup:

technology out of the game

In July, world soccer’s governing body FIFA announced the use of a semi-automatic offside system at the World Cup to help make quick and accurate offside calls.

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According to the governing body’s rules, a player is in an offside position if “any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the midline) and any part of the head , body or feet is closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the penultimate opponent”.

The technology uses a sensor on the ball and a limb-tracking camera system to track players’ movements. To help fans and viewers at home understand the referee’s decision, the data will be used to project 3D images on stadium screens.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Group D - Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - October 26, 2022 Big screen general view as goal not allowed after VAR review
Twelve cameras will be installed on top of each of the eight host stadiums to provide player movement data to the video assistant referee system. [File: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters]

substitutions

Teams will be allowed five substitutions in each game compared to three at the previous World Cup in Russia in 2018.

The regulations were presented by football’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board, in 2020 after what it said was “a global analysis of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on football, as well as representations from various key stakeholders from across football. community”.

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The Argentine Julián Álvarez enters as a substitute to replace Lautaro Martínez
Julián Álvarez of Argentina comes on as a substitute to replace Lautaro Martínez during a match against Chile [File: Javier Torres/Pool/Reuters]

If a World Cup match goes into extra time, one additional substitution will be allowed.

Several soccer leagues, including Spain’s La Liga and the United States’ Major League Soccer, have implemented the change in the last two years.

beginning of november

Unlike previous tournaments, Qatar 2022 will take place during the months of November and December.

Previously, the World Cup had always been held during the northern hemisphere summer, often in June and July. The change was made to avoid the high temperatures in Qatar, which can reach 50C (122F) during that period.

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During the tournament, temperatures are forecast to range between 14C and 31C (57F and 88F).

Expanded Squad Lists

In November, the participating countries will nominate squads with a maximum of 26 players, three more than allowed at the World Cup in Russia.

According to FIFA, the change was made due to the “unique timing” of holding the tournament in November and disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Cup preliminary squad was also expanded from a maximum of 35 players to 55.

female referees

For the first time in the men’s World Cup, three women have been included among the 36 referees selected for Qatar 2022.

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France’s Stephanie Frappart, Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita and Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga have previously officiated at a men’s tournament, including the UEFA Super Cup and the African Cup of Nations.

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations - Group B - Zimbabwe v Guinea - Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde, Cameroon - January 18, 2022 Referee Salima Mukansanga shows a yellow card to Zimbabwe's Talbert Shumba REUTERS/Mohamed Abd el Ghany
Referee Salima Mukansanga shows a yellow card to Talbert Shumba of Zimbabwe [File: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters]

“It is a strong signal from FIFA and from the authorities to have female referees in that country,” Frappart said. “I am not a feminist spokesperson, but if this can make things happen…”

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Joining them will be three other women who will serve among the 69 assistant referees.

The most ‘compact’ World Cup

With an area of ​​just over 11,500 square kilometers (4,440 square miles) and a population of around 2.9 million, Qatar will be the smallest country to host FIFA’s flagship tournament.

All eight stadiums are located within a 50 km (31 mi) radius of the capital Doha. During the group stages, most days will feature up to four games.

While Qatar and FIFA say the “compact” nature of the tournament will allow people to watch several games a day, critics argue that an influx of more than 1.2 million people could lead to heavy congestion on the streets, That would make it difficult for people to attend. move around the country.

“Having four matches in one day is a challenge in a city like Doha,” Abdulaziz Ali Al-Mawlawi of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the tournament’s organizer, said last month. “…Of course, we expect to have congestion on the streets.”

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Schools in Qatar will be closed during the World Cup while office working hours have been reduced.

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