(CNN) — There have been 21 FIFA Men’s World Cups since its inauguration in 1930, but Qatar 2022 is destined to be a tournament like no other.
Since it was announced as the venue almost 12 years ago, it was always destined to be a World Cup of firsts.
From extreme weather to tournament debuts, CNN takes a look at the ways this year’s competition will break new ground.
Qatar’s World Cup debut
This is the first time that the Qatar men’s team has participated in the World Cup, having failed to qualify by the usual means in the past.
FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host nation to participate in a World Cup without having to go through the qualifying rounds, meaning the tiny Gulf State will be pitted against the biggest and best teams in soccer. world.
Qatar is relatively new to the sport, having played its first official match in 1970, but the country has fallen in love with this beautiful game and the national team has been constantly improving.
In 2004, The Aspire Academy was founded with the hope of finding and developing all of Qatar’s most talented athletes.
In recent years, that has paid off for his soccer team. Qatar won the Asian Cup in 2019, capping one of the most memorable streaks in the tournament’s history, conceding just one goal throughout the tournament.
Seventy percent of the team that won the trophy went through the academy, and that number has only increased ahead of the World Cup.
Led by the Spanish Félix Sánchez, Qatar will seek to surprise people and although it faces a relatively friendly group, with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands, its first game was lost 2-0 against the South American team led by the Argentine Gustavo Alfaro.
The “Winter” Cup
The World Cup has always been held in May, June or July, but Qatar 2022 will break with that tradition, more out of necessity than anything else.
Temperatures in Qatar can exceed 40 degrees Celsius during those months, so with this in mind, the tournament was moved to a cooler time.
However, winter in Qatar is a relative term with temperatures likely to hover around 30 degrees Celsius, but organizers hope to beat the heat with multiple methods, including high-tech refrigeration systems in the stadiums.
The change in tournament dates has wreaked havoc on some of the world’s biggest domestic leagues.
All the major leagues in Europe have had to include a winter break in their calendars, which means that the match lists are congested before and after the tournament.
The first World Cup in an Islamic country
One of FIFA’s justifications for granting Qatar hosting rights was the possibility of taking the tournament to a new part of the world.
None of the previous 21 World Cups has been held in an Islamic country and this month’s tournament will be an opportunity for the region to celebrate its growing love of the game.
However, it certainly raises some issues that the organizers have had to address. For many fans, drinking alcohol has been and will continue to be a big part of the tournament experience.
In Qatar, however, it is illegal to be seen drunk in public, forcing organizers to devise ingenious ways around the problem.
As a result, alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks around Doha and there will be separate areas for fans to relax before and after matches.
Qatar, a small country for a huge World Cup
Another question mark surrounding the tournament is how the country will be able to deal with the expected influx of one million visitors, given that it is the smallest country to host the World Cup, with a population of just under three million.
As a result, all eight stadiums are located in and around Doha, the capital city, and are all within an hour’s drive of each other.
Organizers say travel infrastructure, including buses, the metro and car rentals, will be able to cope with the increased pressure.
One benefit of the small distances between venues is that fans will be able to see up to two games in one day. If the traffic is kind.
For its size, Qatar has also had to be smart with its accommodation. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are anchored in Doha to support hotels.
Both ships will offer the usual cruise experience, but fans will not sail more than a 10-minute bus ride into the heart of Doha.
For those fans prone to a bit of motion sickness, the organizers have also built three ‘Fan Villages’ that will offer a place to stay on the outskirts of the city.
These include a variety of accommodations, including caravans, portable cabins, and even camping experiences, and all are located within reasonable distances from the venues.
Also, for those who can afford to pay a little more, there will be luxury yachts docked in the Doha port, which can offer a place to sleep for, let’s face it, an exorbitant price.
A “carbon neutral” tournament
FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon-neutral World Cup, as world soccer’s governing body continues its commitment to make the sport more environmentally friendly.
Along with Qatar, it has pledged to offset carbon emissions by investing in green projects and buying carbon credits, a common practice used by companies to “neutralize” the impact of their carbon footprint.
Qatar, the world’s biggest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide, has said it will keep emissions low and remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as the tournament produces by investing in projects that capture greenhouse gases.
For example, you’ll be sowing the seeds of the world’s largest turf farm by planting 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees.
The plants will be placed in stadiums and other locations around the country and are supposed to suck thousands of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere each year.
However, critics have accused the organizers of “greenwashing” the event, a term used to call attention to those who try to cover up their damage to the environment and climate with green initiatives that are false, misleading or exaggerated.
Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a nonprofit advocacy group that specializes in carbon pricing, says Qatar’s estimates are grossly underestimated.
Qatar 2022 will also see women referees officiating a men’s World Cup match for the first time.
Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart have been named among the 36 referees selected for the tournament.
They will be joined by Neuza Back, Karen Díaz Medina and the American Kathryn Nesbitt, who will travel to the Gulf nation as assistants.
Frappart is arguably the most famous name on the list after she wrote her name in the history books in 2020 by becoming the first woman to take charge of a men’s Champions League match.
But looking to learn from her in Qatar is Rwanda’s Mukansanga, who told CNN she was excited to take up the challenge of refereeing at a major tournament.
“I would look at what the referees are doing, just to copy the best things they are doing, so that one day I would be in the World Cup like this,” he said, adding that his family couldn’t wait. to see her go out on the field.
It has not yet been decided when the women will referee their first match at the tournament, but there will be some new rules to enforce.
For the first time, teams will be able to use up to five substitutes and coaches can now choose from a squad of 26 players, instead of the usual 23.