By Ashley Murphy
For the first time in the history of the most-watched sporting event in the world, the football World Cup will be hosted in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar, with their football team automatically qualifying. The championship is awarded every four years and this year, 12 Russian cities play host to the 60+ matches that result in one final match for the World Cup championship title. While the 2018 championship will undoubtedly be an event full of excitement, the 2022 World Cup will be like no other tournament before it, promising a plethora of firsts.
Qatar will be the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, as well as the first to host in the winter months of November and December rather than the usual May - July season, largely due to the summer heat in the country. With this new schedule in place, the first match will kick off on November 21 with the final being held December 18. Despite Qatar also being the smallest country to ever serve as a host, FIFA is currently considering expanding the 32-team World Cup to 48 teams, which would require the country to share its position with other areas in the region.
However, Qatar isn't allowing its size to interfere with its ability to present a grand view of the world's largest sporting event. Though the number of stadiums required has yet to be officially decided, the country's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy expects 8 stadiums to be built by the 4-year mark. By the end of this year, the design plans for Lusail, the stadium that will hold the final will be unveiled. Though the country is undoubtedly pouring a lot of money into building stadiums for the championship, Qatar's goal is to pay it forward by building modular top tiers that can be taken down after the World Cup and donated to countries with less sports infrastructure.
Despite the controversy surrounding Qatar's assignment to the 2022 World Cup, the country seems to be working hard to prove themselves and defend their hosting rights. Along with three of the eight stadiums being completed by the end of this year, a Doha-based tech-startup company called Arvex will soon have a 360 degree virtual reality tour of the first-built, Khalifa International Stadium with aspirations to provide the same for the venues to come. Though there is and will be a lot of pressure on Qatar's shoulders, the country remains diligent in their pursuit of hosting the sporting event that the lucky will attend and the world will be watching: the 2022 World Cup.