LONDON (AP) — The 2022 World Cup will have four games every day in a 12-day group stage and matches later in the tournament that go into extra time will extend past midnight in Qatar.
FIFA released the schedule for the first World Cup to be played in November and December on Wednesday, with kickoff times at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT), 4 p.m. (1300 GMT), 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) and 10 p.m. (1900 GMT).
“Once the pairings are known, the possibility will be discussed of providing a more beneficial kickoff time for audiences at home, or indeed for fans in Qatar with regard to the stadium allocation,” FIFA said in a statement.
Host Qatar will open the Middle East’s first World Cup in the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium at 1 p.m. on Nov. 21. The final starts at 6 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium. Those are the same kickoff times from the last World Cup in Russia.
Eight venues in close proximity to Doha will be used at the tournament, which will be played in 28 days rather than the 32 days used in Russia to minimize the disruption to the European season. Teams and fans will not need to fly around Qatar because stadiums are within a 30-mile radius.
Both semifinals — like some games in the previous rounds — will kick off at 10 p.m. and will spill over into the next day if there is extra time, or even just long injury and VAR delays in regular time.
There is no space for a gap without games between the group stage and round of 16.
Most teams will get three days of rest between games, which FIFA said was “optimum for sporting performance.” But teams in two last-16 matches will only have two days of rest. For the third-place playoff, one losing semifinalist will have two recovery days while the other has three.
FIFA is looking to stage the draw for the tournament in late March or early April 2022, when 30 of the 32 finalists will be known.
The final starts at 10 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast (4 p.m. Central European time) and will be over before the start of NFL games in the U.S. It will be the second straight final more accommodating to Asian audiences.
The 2018 men’s final in Moscow started at 11 a.m. EDT and 5 p.m. CET after nine of the 10 previous championship games from 1978 through 2014 started in the 2-3:30 p.m. EDT and 8-9:30 CET range. The exception was the 2002 final in Japan, which began at 7 a.m. EDT (1 p.m. CET).
The trend is a sign that while the 1994 World Cup final started at noon at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California (9 p.m. CET), the 2026 final is more likely be staged on the East Coast or Central time zone,
It is the last World Cup with 32 teams before the expansion to 48 nations at the 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
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