The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is rapid approaching and fans around the world are getting prepared to watch every second of the biggest single sporting event in the world.
World renowned stars like Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar are set to strut their stuff in the first ever World Cup to be held in the Arab world.
Here's everything you need to know about the World Cup's history and the upcoming tournament in the Middle East.
What is the World Cup?
The FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament contested by men's senior national teams of members of FIFA.
Qualifying rounds take place in the years leading up to each tournament. They are held in FIFA's six continental zones - Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Oceania, and Europe - with the amount of qualifying spots given to each zone decided by FIFA.
Host nations have received automatic qualification for each World Cup finals tournament since the 1938 World Cup. Champions are still required to qualify for each tournament.
World Cup history
The international governing body FIFA was officially created in 1904 in Paris and by 1930 every affiliated country had been invited to compete in the first ever World Cup that year. It was hosted in Uruguay and subsequently had more South American sides competing than nations from Europe - only Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia travelled across the sea.
The tournament grew from 13 participating teams to 16 in 1934, where Italy won in their homeland before retaining their title four years later in France.
The planned 1942 and 1946 World Cups were cancelled due to World War II but the tournament returned in 1950, where inaugural hosts Uruguay collected the most points from the final round to win the trophy.
World Cups have been played every four years ever since, with nations Brazil, England, Germany, France, Argentina and Spain all winning the competition in that time.
World Cup winners
- 1930 - Uruguay 4-2 Argentina
- 1934 - Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia (AET)
- 1938 - Italy 4-2 Hungary
- 1950 - Uruguay 2-1 Brazil
- 1954 - West Germany 3-2 Hungary
- 1958 - Brazil 5-2 Sweden
- 1962 - Brazil 3-1 Czechoslovakia
- 1966 - England 4-2 West Germany (AET)
- 1970 - Brazil 4-1 Italy
- 1974 - West Germany 2-1 the Netherlands
- 1978 - Argentina 3-1 the Netherlands
- 1982 - Italy 3-1 West Germany
- 1986 - Argentina 3-2 West Germany
- 1990 - West Germany 1-0 Argentina
- 1994 - Brazil 0-0 Italy (3-2 on penalties)
- 1998 - France 3-0 Brazil
- 2002 - Brazil 2-0 Germany
- 2006 - Italy 1-1 France (5-3 on penalties)
- 2010 - Spain 1-0 the Netherlands (AET)
- 2014 - Germany 1-0 Argentina (AET)
- 2018 - France 4-2 Croatia
World Cup rules
12 substitutes can be named by managers for each World Cup game. An additional swap can be made when a match goes to extra time, regardless of whether a team has made their full quota of permitted subs already.
Players who are sent off are banned outright for one game - this applies to both straight red cards and accumulation of yellows. Two bookings in separate games result in a one-game suspension.
Yellow cards are then wiped out at the quarter-final stage.
World Cup highest goalscorers
Miroslav Klose became the greatest goalscorer in World Cup finals history in 2014, when he overtook Ronaldo's 15 goals to reach 16 for Germany.
The only current player in the top 15 is Thomas Muller, who has netted ten times for Germany on the biggest stage.
- Miroslav Klose (Germany) - 16
- Ronaldo (Brazil) - 15
- Gerd Muller (West Germany) - 14
- Just Fontaine (France) - 13
- Pele (Brazil) - 12
- Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) - 11
- Jurgen Klinsmann (West Germany, Germany) - 11
- Helmut Rahn (West Germany) - 10
- Gary Lineker (England) - 10
- Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina) - 10
- Teofilo Cubillas (Peru) - 10
- Thomas Muller (Germany) - 10
- Grzegorz Lato (Poland) - 10
- Eusebio (Portugal) - 9
- Christian Vieri (Italy) - 9
World Cup Golden Ball winners
The Golden Ball award is given to the best player at a World Cup and was first awarded in 1982, when Paolo Rossi's six goals took Italy to victory in Spain.
Legendary icons like Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have all been named the best player at a tournament, with the most recent winner being Luka Modric as Croatia reached the final in 2018.
- 1982 - Paolo Rossi (Italy)
- 1986 - Diego Maradona (Argentina)
- 1990 - Salvatore Schillaci (Italy)
- 1994 - Romario (Brazil)
- 1998 - Ronaldo (Brazil)
- 2002 - Oliver Kahn (Germany)
- 2006 - Zinedine Zidane (France)
- 2010 - Diego Forlan (Uruguay)
- 2014 - Lionel Messi (Argentina)
- 2018 - Luka Modric (Croatia)
The contenders for this year may well include Messi and Modric again, though stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne and Neymar will be in contention if their respective nations go deep into the tournament.
Best Young Player award
Th Best Young Player award is given to the best performing young player at a World Cup tournament. It was first officially awarded in 2006, when Lukas Podolski scooped the trophy.
FIFA retrospectively named the best young players at old tournaments via an internet survey.
- 1958 - Pele (Brazil)
- 1962 - Florian Albert (Hungary)
- 1966 - Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany)
- 1970 - Teofilo Cubillas (Peru)
- 1974 - Wladyslaw Zmuda (Poland)
- 1978 - Antonio Cabrini (Italy)
- 1982 - Manuel Amoros (France)
- 1986 - Enzo Scifo (Belgium)
- 1990 - Robert Prosinecki (Yugoslavia)
- 1994 - Marc Overmars (the Netherlands)
- 1998 - Michael Owen (England)
- 2002 - Landon Donovan (USA)
- 2006 - Lukas Podolski (Germany)
- 2010 - Thomas Muller (Germany)
- 2014 - Paul Pogba (France)
- 2018 - Kylian Mbappe (France)
World Cup Golden Boot winners
The Golden Boot - previously called the Golden Shoe - is awarded to the top scorer of any given World Cup. Records show the top scorers for early World Cups, but the award wasn't officially introduced until 1982.
If there is a tie for top scorer with the same number of goals, the tie-breaker is fewer goals scored from penalties. It is then decided on who has more assists. If there is still a tie, the tie-breaker is playing the least amount of time.
- 1930 - Guillermo Stabile (Argentina) - 8
- 1934 - Oldrich Nejedly (Czechoslovakia) - 5
- 1938 - Leonidas (Brazil) - 7
- 1950 - Ademir (Brazil) - 8
- 1954 - Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) - 11
- 1958 - Just Fontaine (France) - 13
- 1962 - Florian Albert (Hungary), Valentin Ivanov (Soviet Union), Garrincha (Brazil), Vava (Brazil), Drazan Jerkovic (Yugoslavia), Leonel Sanchez (Chile) - 4
- 1966 - Eusebio (Portugal) - 9
- 1970 - Gerd Muller (West Germany) - 10
- 1974 - Grzegorz Lato (Poland) - 7
- 1978 - Mario Kempes (Argentina) - 6
- 1982 - Paolo Rossi (Italy) - 6
- 1986 - Gary Lineker (England) - 6
- 1990 - Salvatore Schillaci (Italy) - 6
- 1994 - Oleg Salenko (Russia), Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) - 6
- 1998 - Davor Suker (Croatia) - 6
- 2002 - Ronaldo (Brazil) - 8
- 2006 - Miroslav Klose (Germany) - 5
- 2010 - Thomas Muller (Germany) - 5
- 2014 - James Rodriguez (Colombia) - 6
- 2018 - Harry Kane (England) - 6
Harry Kane won the Golden Boot in Russia and will be among the favourites for the prize this winter. However, Mbappe and compatriot Karim Benzema are just two of the premier goalscorers Kane will have to fend off to be top scorer.
Dark horses include the likes of Vinicius Junior, Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku.
World Cup Golden Glove winners
The Golden Glove is awarded to the best goalkeeper at a World Cup tournament. It was initially called the Lev Yashin Award in 1994, but was later retitled in 2010. The decision is made by the FIFA Technical Study Group.
- 1994 - Michel Preud'homme (Belgium)
- 1998 - Fabien Barthez (France)
- 2002 - Oliver Kahn (Germany)
- 2006 - Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
- 2010 - Iker Casillas (Spain)
- 2014 - Manuel Neuer (Germany)
- 2018 - Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
Thibaut Courtois is the current Golden Glove holder and has arguably been the in-form goalkeeper of the last two years, enjoying great success with Real Madrid at club level. Brazil are expected to reach the late stages of the tournament, so expect Alisson to be in contention.
World Cup most finals appearances
Germany legend Lothar Matthaus has made more appearances at men's World Cup finals than any other player with 25.
- Lothar Matthaus (West Germany, Germany) - 25
- Miroslav Klose (Germany) - 24
- Paolo Maldini (Italy) - 23
- Diego Maradona (Argentina) - 21
- Uwe Seeler (West Germany) - 21
Lionel Messi ought to break into the top ten this year, with the Paris Saint-Germain wizard currently sat on 19 games.
How often is the World Cup?
World Cups are played every four years. In 2026, the tournament will be held in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The host for the 2030 World Cup is yet to be announced.
How was Qatar given the World Cup?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani was the chairman of Qatar's bid committee. Their bid received an endorsement from Real Madrid and France legend Zinedine Zidane, who said "now it is time for the Middle East" to host a World Cup.
However, the compact nature of the country and the ferocious heat seemed to make the bid appear fanciful. Qatar promoted their bid as a way of bridging the Arab and Western worlds, though human rights crimes that are still prevalent today also caused a lot of criticism.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter then endorsed a Middle East World Cup, praising Qatar's infrastructure and their hosting of the 2006 Asian Games.
In December 2010, it was announced the 22 executive committee members had voted to award the 2022 edition to Qatar, who had appealed to FIFA to take a "bold gamble" in bringing the World Cup to previously unchartered territory.
World Cup tickets
Fans are able to further register their interest in tickets for the 2022 World Cup through FIFA here.
A 'Last-Minute Sales Phase' will take place on FIFA.com/tickets and take place from 10:00 BST on 27 September.
Over 2.45 million tickets have been sold ahead of the World Cup.
Local laws in Qatar
Fans travelling to Qatar have been advised to learn about the customs of the nation, with different views present on clothing, alcohol and human rights issues.
It is illegal to drink or be drunk in Qatar, though some relaxation of this law will be in force for the 2022 World Cup. Aside from expected fan zones, alcohol can only be purchased at specially licensed premises.
- Things you shouldn't take and shouldn't do visiting Qatar for the World Cup
- Can fans drink in Qatar during the World Cup?
- LGBTQ protests and support during the Qatar World Cup
Why is the World Cup in November and December?
Qatar's summer heats make a European summer World Cup impossible, as it can hit 50 degrees. Instead, the club season will break up in November and teams will travel over to the Middle East to play the tournament in a reduced timeframe.
- Why is the 2022 World Cup being held in Qatar?
- 2022 World Cup calendar - how it works in Europe's top 5 leagues
2022 World Cup host cities & stadiums
All eight stadiums are situated in a 21-mile radius of central Doha and are powered by solar panels farms. They are also equipped with detailed cooling systems to ensure things don't get too hot.
- Lusail Iconic Stadium - Lusail
- Al Bayt Stadium - Al Khor
- Education City Stadium - Al Rayyan
- Al Rayyan Stadium - Al Rayyan
- Al Janoub Stadium - Al-Wakrah
- Ras Abu Aboud Stadium - Doha
- Al Thumama Stadium - Doha
- Khalifa International Stadium
Where is the 2022 World Cup final?
The final is scheduled for Friday 18 December - coincidentally Qatar National Day - and will be played at Lusail Iconic Stadium, which has a capacity of 80,000.
2022 World Cup base camps
Teams will be scattered throughout Qatar, staying at various hotels for the duration of their stay. Every nation also has an allocated training site to use for practice.
2022 World Cup opening ceremony
The exact details of the opening ceremony for the 2022 World Cup are still to be confirmed, but it will precede host country Qatar facing Ecuador on Sunday 20 November.
2022 World Cup groups
The draw for the 2022 World Cup took place in April, pitting nations from the different confederations against each other in the group stage.
England have been drawn against old frenemies the United States as well as local neighbours Wales and Asian outfit Iran.
Hosts Qatar will face Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands in Group A, while defending champions France have Australia, Denmark and Tunisia to contend with in their opening three games.
- World Cup 2022: Which teams have qualified for Qatar?
- Every World Cup nation's best player
- The 32 teams at the 2022 World Cup - ranked
2022 World Cup fixtures
A total of 64 games will be played throughout the tournament, beginning with Qatar vs Ecuador in the tournament's curtain-raiser.
Among the spicier encounters in the group stage will be Argentina vs Mexico - a staple fixture at World Cups - the European clash between heavyweights Spain and Germany, and Iran vs the United States, a match with added tension due to their complex geo-political relationship.
- Where to watch the World Cup anywhere in the world: Complete guide
- World Cup 2022: Group stage fixtures, draw, schedule, kick-off times
2022 World Cup kits
Not every World Cup kit for the 2022 tournament has been released, but almost every country has confirmed at least one shirt design.
Mexico's away kit is a thing of beauty while Ecuador have also earned some rave reviews, but Belgium's year five disco flame shirt and Portugal's awful split-screen top have gone down like led balloons.
- All confirmed World Cup 2022 kits
- The best World Cup 2022 kits - ranked
- The worst World Cup 2022 kits - ranked
2022 World Cup players to watch
Cor, where do we even start?
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may not be seen as the two outright top players in the world anymore but both likely know this may well be their final chance for World Cup glory.
France are stacked with stars like Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba, while individual stars like Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale and Sadio Mane will be hoping to lead their sides on surprise runs to the knockout stages.
2022 World Cup referees
Referees from federations around the world have been called up to take charge of matches at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The familiar faces from Premier League action are Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor, but no officials from England will be in charge of any VAR calls.
- Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (Qatar)
- Chris Beath (Australia)
- Alireza Faghani (Iran)
- Ma Ning (China PR)
- Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed (United Arab Emirates)
- Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan)
- Bakary Gassama (Gambia)
- Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria)
- Victor Gomes (South Africa)
- Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda)
- Maguette Ndiaye (Senegal)
- Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
- Ivan Barton (El Salvador)
- Ismail Elfath (United States)
- Mario Escobar (Guatemala)
- Said Martinez (Honduras)
- Cesar Arturo Ramos (Mexico)
- Raphael Claus (Brazil)
- Andres Matonte (Uruguay)
- Kevin Ortega (Peru)
- Fernando Rapallini (Argentina)
- Wilton Sampaio (Brazil)
- Facundo Tello (Argentina)
- Jesus Valenzuela (Venezuela)
- Matthew Conger (New Zealand)
- Stephanie Frappart (France)
- Istvan Kovacs (Romania)
- Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
- Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
- Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
- Michael Oliver (England)
- Daniele Orsato (Italy)
- Daniel Siebert (Germany)
- Anthony Taylor (England)
- Clement Turpin (France)
- Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)
2022 World Cup Video assistant referees
- Abdulla Al-Marri (Qatar)
- Muhammad Taqi (Singapore)
- Shaun Evans (Australia)
- Redouane Jiyed (Morocco)
- Adil Zourak (Morocco)
- Drew Fischer (Canada)
- Fernando Guerrero (Mexico)
- Armando Villarreal (United States)
- Julio Bascunan (Chile)
- Nicolas Gallo (Colombia)
- Leodan Gonzalez (Uruguay)
- Juan Soto (Venezuela)
- Mauro Vigliano (Argentina)
- Jerome Brisard (France)
- Bastian Dankert (Germany)
- Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea (Spain)
- Marco Fritz (Germany)
- Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez (Spain)
- Massimiliano Irrati (Italy)
- Tomasz Kwiatkowski (Poland)
- Juan Martinez Munuera (Spain)
- Benoit Millot (France)
- Paolo Valeri (Italy)
- Pol van Boekel (Netherlands)
2022 World Cup mascot
The mascot for the 2022 World Cup is La'eeb, a "fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all tournament mascots live," according to FIFA.
They also say La'eeb has attended every previous World Cup tournament and has "contributed to some of the most famous moments in football history, including a number of iconic goals".
We're not totally convinced.
The name 'La'eeb' is an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player, FIFA add.
2022 World Cup ball
FIFA and adidas have confirmed the new Al Rihla ball will be used at this year's World Cup in Qatar. 'Al Rihla' translates as 'the journey' and a strong emphasis on speed was placed on the ball's creation.
It is also the first World Cup ball to be made exclusively with water-based inks and glues.
2022 World Cup coverage in the United Kingdom
All World Cup games will be shown live in the United Kingdom by the BBC and ITV. Highlights of the matches will then be available on their iPlayer and ITV Hub services.
Where to watch the World Cup in the United Kingdom?
- TV channels and stream: BBC, ITV
- Highlights: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub
- Kick off times: 10:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00, 19:00 GMT
2022 World Cup sponsors
- Qatar Airways
- Wanda Group
FIFA World Cup sponsors
- Anheuser-Busch InBev
- Mengniu Dairy
African and Middle Eastern supporters
- GWC Logistics
- QNB Group
North American supporters
- The Look Company
South American supporters