The 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins in exactly two months, November 20 and it will end on December 18. Over the 29-day tournament’s duration, the 32 participating teams will be lodged within a 27-mile-long by 42-mile-wide area that includes the Hamad International Airport, the entire city of Doha, and the outlying stadium (one hour’s drive away) of Albayt Stadium in Al Khor. With the exception of that one stadium almost all practice facilities, hotels, and stadia will be at a driving travel distance of about 30 minutes, tops, from one another–pretty good logistics to navigate.
This geographic detail alone will cut on the wear and tear on players due to travel and given the lodging and practice facilities available on paper no national delegation will be without a first-class option for either. Assuming the buses we have seen in use for club team travel are pretty close to the ones used during the tourney they will be huge with ample leg room for an entire national team entourage to move around in but a couple of deluxe, air-conditioned buses with airplane amenities such as TV screens, hot food, and bathrooms. This is all after having traveled from afar to Qatar in private jets and or chartered flights.
So now we have our teams ensconced in their camps—having traveled from around the world to Qatar and gotten over their jet lag and other such—with about a week to prepare after their clubs’ seasonal break for the cup and after having concluded their last Nations League or international friendlies contests in September. So, the teams will be in mid-season form with extra time off without their regular menu of every 3-5 days of competitive games.
At their lodgings (such as Brazil’s) and/or camps many teams will have brought their own cooks to ensure they are eating what they are used to and like. They will also have obtained correctly sized beds, entertainment equipment (ping-pong, pool, bowling, et. al.), and internet connections for downtime, and they will have access to doctors, physiotherapists, trainers, and recuperative facilities and services (sauna, hot tubs, ice tubs, massages, etc.), to ensure they are as relaxed and pampered as possible.
Their actual training facilities will be the players’ first taste of the weather in Qatar where the average temperature range for the November-December tourney is expected to be from the mid-80s to the upper-70s Fahrenheit. That is comfortable weather for most folks but not so much for those accustomed to the more northern climes. Perhaps as many as 13 of the 32 teams will have played in this type of weather regularly. The rest of the participants will have to contend with the weather as one more logistics issue.
In addition, the rainy season begins in December so half the tourney will be played during that weather. Qatar’s rain showers are typically similar to those in the Caribbean with at times unexpected hard and fast fronts coming through which may only last 20-30 minutes, but which will have dropped a formidable amount of water and make playing while it falls a real challenge given most of the stadia do not have retractable roofs.
Once the tournament begins Doha roads and their traffic will be monitored by Qatari authorities to ensure smooth rides to and from the players’ lodging and training facilities and the stadia where they will be performing. The given facilities at the stadia are brand new and well appointed as witnessed through YouTube video tours.
But what about the rest of us? Not the celebrity members of national teams and their entourages or FIFA officials or others who can afford the best, what about accommodations, eating facilities, travel, and other such for fans? Well, that may be another story.
In short, a very different World Cup awaits us and if we are willing to suspend disbelief and hope that the new FIFA technology and rules, a smaller traveling radius for matches, upscale lodging and training facility options for teams, mid-season forms for players instead of summer form at the end of long club seasons, and all the money and efforts of the Qatari authorities, will combine to overcome any climate and infrastructure issues and provide us with a stellar tournament.
Graphic: Qatar WC 2022 logo, Wikipedia Commons, downloaded 9/21/22 for editorial use only.