The World Cup Explained for America Viewers

FIFA World Cup Explained Logo 2022
FIFA World Cup Logo 2022

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is set to start on November 20th. For most Americans, it’s safe to say we are casual soccer fans. Maybe you’re just getting acquainted with this sport known as football worldwide thanks to Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElnenney’s hit docuseries Welcome To Wrexham, or apple tv plus’ hit show Ted Lasso. Perhaps you support your local club but have little to no knowledge of FIFA or the World Cup. This article is for you, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the format of the world cup.

How Do You Get To The World Cup?

Often touted as the biggest sporting event in the world the FIFA World Cup started in 1930. It’s an international football competition contested by the senior Men’s national teams of FIFA. The World Cup takes place every four years. In its current form, 32 countries compete. To decide who goes to the World Cup, national teams qualify by competing against each other in their continent confederation.

Confederation Breakdown

The United States competes in the North American confederation called CONCACAF, which berths 3.5 teams in the World Cup. South America’s confederation is called CONMEBOL they send 4.5 teams to the World Cup. Europe is the most talented confederation called UEFA they get to send 13 teams to the World Cup. Africa’s confederation is called CAF they send 5 teams. Asia’s confederation is called AFC they get 4.5 berths to the World Cup. Oceania or the OFC only gets 0.5 teams sent to the World Cup, which means one team from Oceania has to win one inter-confederation play-off slot to qualify for the World Cup. The last remaining slot is reserved for the host nation team, Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup.

3.5 + 4.5 + 13 + 5 + 4.5 + 0.5 + 1 = 32

The Group Stage Round Robin

In the group stage, the 32 countries are placed into eight groups of four named Group A through Group H. Two teams from the same confederation are not allowed in the same group. However, since the UEFA has so many teams they get an exception to this rule. The host nations team is always in Group A. Take a look at this year’s group matchups.

Each country is guaranteed to play at least three games because each country will play the other three teams in their group. The Group matches earn points for each country. A win is awarded 3 points a draw is awarded 1 point and a loss results in zero points. At the end of the round-robin matches the top 2 teams from each group enter the knockout round. If there is a points tie, the team that scored the most goals wins.

The Knockout Stage Bracket

The first round of the knockout stage is called the Round of 16. The winner from group A faces the runner-up from group B, this continues until all the teams are matched. After the Round of 16, come the quarter-finals. Next, the semi-finals. This is followed by the 3rd place play-off and the event ends with the Final Match. The rules are simple, the winner moves on the loser goes home. If the match is tied there will be an additional 30-minute period. If the score is still tied at the end of the additional 30-minute period, a shoot-out will decide the match. In a shoot-out, each team gets five shots at goal the team with the most goals wins. The shoot-out is repeated until a winner is declared. Here is an example of the Knockout Bracket from an enthusiastic fan of the French Team

Events like this are special because the best football athletes in the world get a chance to represent their home countries on the world’s biggest stage. Tune in and support your home team or follow your favorite players from the biggest leagues around the world. Project Spurs will be covering the entire event, so come with us on this journey.


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