Fifa announced on Wednesday the match schedule for World Cup 2022, to be held from November 21 to December 18 in Qatar.

The Al Bayt Stadium will be the stage for hosts Qatar to kick off the tournament on Monday, 21 November 2022. The group stage will last 12 days and, with four matches per day, the global governing body said, adding that no air travel will be needed to move between the venues.

In a joint statement, Fifa and Qatar’s Supreme Committee organisational body said that the gas-rich Gulf nation will start the World Cup at the 60,000-capacity ground.

The final will be held at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium in Doha nearly a month later on December 18.

The opening match will begin a group stage that will feature four matches a day for 12 days, spread over eight stadiums around Qatar.

Image courtesy: Fifa

Group matches will kick off at three-hour intervals. The tournament will then jump straight to the last 16, with two matches a day until two rest days and the start of the quarter- and semi-finals, which will both be spread over two days.

The local kick-off times for group matches have been set for 13:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00, with the simultaneous kick-offs for the last round of group games and knockout-stage timings being 18:00 and 22:00. Khalifa International Stadium will be the setting for the play-off for third place on 17 December. The final will kick off one day later at 18:00 at Lusail Stadium.

Image courtesy: Fifa

Qatar 2022, first men’s Fifa World Cup to be staged in the Middle East, is also the first edition to be held in the November-December window. The tournament will feature 32 teams.

Qualification for the World Cup has begun in Asia and Africa but is yet to start in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Organisers said on Wednesday that the draw for the finals would be made “after the March 2022 international match calendar qualifying window”.

Both the Al Bayt and Lusail stadiums are still under construction, although the Al Bayt ground – which takes its shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region – is nearing completion, according to World Cup organisers.

Last week rights group Amnesty International claimed that around a hundred migrant workers at the Al-Bayt stadium, which is 50 kilometres north of Doha, have yet to receive outstanding wages in full after not being paid for up to seven months.

Earlier this month several sources told AFP that World Cup organisers will lay off an undisclosed number of staff as Qatar cuts costs amid the coronavirus economic downturn.

Qatar has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates.

Fifa issued the latest updates in relation to the international match calendar in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that can be found here and here.

With AFP inputs