In the kingdom of global sports, football is the most popular and the FIFA World Cup the crown jewel. The 2022 World Cup was hosted in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, rated one of the world’s safest and happiest countries. With an extravagant opening ceremony on November 20 and a thrilling final on December 18, it raised the bar of expectations for all future FIFA World Cup tournaments.
Join us as we take a look at some fun facts about the 2022 FIFA World Cup before you give the best online slots in the UK a spin.
The first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern (and Muslim) country to host the FIFA World Cup. With a tiny population of 2.985 million and a land area of 11,571 square metres, it is also the smallest country to ever host the tournament, which comprised a total of 64 games, across eight stadiums, with all stadiums located within a 55 km radius of Qatar’s capital, Doha. This also made it the most accessible World Cup to date, with no need for spectators or teams to fly to different stadiums between matches.
A few extra rules were required for the tournament to be held in accordance with the country’s religious beliefs. The sale of alcohol was banned at stadiums; beer was only available in hospitality boxes and in the fan zones after 7pm, while pork-based items, balloons, loud music and cigarettes were also banned inside stadiums. In addition, a recitation of extracts from the Quran was also performed at the opening ceremony to honour the country’s religious beliefs.
One of the most expensive FIFA World Cups in history
Qatar reportedly spent a hefty $220 billion (£179 billion) on the 2022 World Cup, which is $214.8 billion more than Russia had spent on the 2018 tournament. Experts estimate that the costs totalled more than all previous World Cups and Olympics combined! These costs included additional or improved infrastructure, new stadiums and renovated existing stadiums that included air conditioning and semi-automated offside technology.
A carbon-neutral World Cup
Qatar implemented a four-step process – awareness, measurement, reduction and offsetting – in an attempt to deliver a carbon-neutral tournament. This involved renewable energy solutions, energy and water–efficient stadiums, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, and dismountable stadiums. Built from 974 shipping containers, stadium 974 was built in such a way that it could be dismantled after the tournament and reused for other development projects.
The first ever winter World Cup
Because of the extreme heat in Qatar during summer months – with temperatures reaching 42 degrees celsius – it was decided to host the World Cup during winter when the weather is much more pleasant. This decision made it the first World Cup ever to be hosted in November and December as opposed to May, June, or July when it is typically held.
FIFA World Cup’s first female referees
Three women – Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart – made history at the 2022 World Cup when they became the first ever female referees to officiate men’s matches. Frappart, who is known in her home country, France, for her diplomatic style of refereeing and who became the first woman in history to officiate at the World Cup (the Germany vs. Costa Rica game on 1 December), insisted, “It is no longer about what gender you are. It is about your ability”. This will no doubt be remembered as an iconic moment in the history of both football and Qatar.
Age range between competing players
The 2022 World Cup featured an astounding 22-year age difference between the tournament’s youngest player, Youssoufa Moukoko from Germany, and its oldest player, Alfredo Talavera, who hails from Mexico.
Moukoko, the Borussia Dortmund attacker, turned 18 on the same day the tournament kicked off. He is considered the youngest and most promising player from Germany since Jamal Musiala. In the 2022 Bundesliga, Moukoko helped Borussia Dortmund with three assists and six goals.
The oldest player, 40-year-old goalkeeper Talavera, is part of a surprisingly large group of veterans who participated in the 2022 World Cup. Others included Lionel Messi (35), Cristiano Ronaldo (37), Luka Modric (37), Dani Alves (39) and Thiago Silva (38).
In 2018, more than half the world’s population (approximately 3.572 billion people) watched the FIFA World Cup in Russia. In 2022, an estimated 1.2 million live spectators and 5 billion viewers tuned in over the course of the tournament to take in the action. In the US alone, coverage of the match between the national team and England broke the record for the most watched men’s soccer match ever, with an audience of 19.65 million viewers.
Ronaldo and Messi’s last World Cup
As for the legendary kings of the game, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, their participation made for a bittersweet World Cup as the two football greats played in what is widely considered to have been their last ever World Cup. With a combined 21 World Cup appearances, both players have dominated men’s football for more than a decade. As a tribute to both players, Louis Vuitton shared an iconic black and white photo on its Instagram page of the two playing chess.
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