FIFA stands for Federation Internationale de Football Association. Throughout the world, except in the U.S., Canada and Australia, football means soccer.
Why can’t we all use the same nomenclature? Does it have to be “us vs. them” all the time?
I know American football is BIG – in fact, it’s the #1 sport in America. But, soccer is much BIGGER, boasting more than 3.5 billion fans worldwide (compared to 184 million NFL fans).
Just 2 days ago, the FIFA World Cup kicked off. Held once every 4 years, like the Olympics, 32 national championship teams will take to the pitch in Qatar, the pearl of the Middle East.
Here’s how it’ll play out:
- 32 teams have been invited to the World Cup, after winning their country’s respective national championships. Each team can register a squad of up to 26 players, including 3 goalkeepers
- These 32 teams have been divided into 8 groups of 4 teams
- These 4 teams will play each team in their group once
- 4 matches will be held each day over a 12-day period, from November 20th until December 18th
- A win is worth 3 points, a draw is worth 1 point and a loss earns zero
- The 2 top teams from each group (teams with the most points) will advance to the knockout round, consisting of 16 teams
- These 16 teams will play against each other, with each losing team being eliminated from the tournament until there are only 4 teams left
- The reduced set of 4 teams will play a semi-final match, leaving 2 teams to advance to the final. The 2 semi-final losers will play against each other for 3rd place
- The winner of the final match will be crowned on December 18th
Here's where you can watch the action in the U.S. and Canada.
FIFA expects to bring in $4.6 billion and will dish out $440 million in prize money. Champions receive $42 million, 2nd place $30 million and 3rd place $27 million. Everyone receives $1.5 million just for showing up.
Designed by Italian Silvio Gazzaniga, the World Cup trophy is made of 18 carat gold, weighing in at 6.175 kg. After the awards ceremony, the winning team will be given a replica of the trophy with its name engraved on the base, FIFA will keep the original on display in its Zurich head office.
Bookmakers are favoring Brazil to win the tournament, followed by Argentina, France and England. Brazil is the most successful World Cup team, with 5 titles to its name. Argentina has done it twice. France participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and has been champion twice. England has only 1 World Cup title to its name, despite being the birthplace of soccer in 1863.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi (age 35) and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (age 37) may be playing their last World Cup in Qatar. All eyes will be on these $1+ billion career-earning superstars, as neither has ever won the coveted Trophy, despite their incredible accomplishments.
2022 is the first time a Middle Eastern country has hosted the World Cup. Eight stadiums will host the Tournament, all of which are located within a 34 mile (55 km) radius of Qatar’s capital city, Doha. Lusail Iconic Stadium has the highest capacity (80,000), and will host 10 of the 32 matches, including the final and closing ceremonies. The Khalifa Stadium in Al Rayyan will host the 3rd place playoff match. The Al Bayt Stadium, also in Al Rayyan, hosted the opening ceremony and the opening match between the traditional host (Qatar) and Ecuador on November 20th.
Usually the World Cup is held between May and July; however, the extreme heat in Qatar was enough to push the date forward to November/December when climate conditions are temperate.
Qatar is slightly smaller in size than Connecticut. Its capital city is Doha. Jutting into the breathtaking Persian Gulf, the Qatar peninsula borders Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Don’t expect any soccer matches to be rained out, as only 3” of rain fall in Qatar per year. Arabic is the official language of Qatar, with Islam the official religion. The wealthiest country in the Arab World, Qatar’s economic prosperity comes from the extraction and export of petroleum. Before oil was discovered in 1939, the country was poor, primarily engaged in pearling and fishing.
This blog would be incomplete without strongly objecting to the homophobic comments that were recently made by FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Ambassador, Khalid Salman. He described homosexuality as “damage in the mind” and remarked that being gay is “haram”, which is Arabic for “forbidden”. Let’s also not forget its poor human rights record for the treatment of foreign workers and women. Yesterday Iran’s players refused to sing the national anthem as a gesture of solidarity with oppressed women. Many Iranian women wore t-shirts with the phrase “Woman, Life, Freedom”, which has become the rallying cry for protestors since a 22 year old Kurdish-Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, died while in police custody for not wearing a headscarf correctly. And following FIFA pressure, a planned OneLove armband initiative to support diversity and inclusion has been crushed after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards to players wearing one. FIFA is clearly no angel, with its own dirty laundry depicted most recently in a timely new Netflix documentary. Shame on them.
The 2 AM ET wake-up call for North American audiences has already begun. Only die-hard fans will watch all matches, with interest peaking for the semi-finals (Dec. 13-14), third-place match (Dec. 17) and final (Dec. 18). Any decent boss should give you some slack during this period. After all, soccer enthusiasm must be practiced in preparation for 2026, when the World Cup comes to North America.
Now take what you’ve learned and play today’s FIFA 2022Quiz of the Day:
1. Download Quizefy app.
2. 250 free gems will be instantly deposited in your name
3. Start playing immediately for free
4. Have fun and Strut Your Smart!