All you need to know ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
The World Cup in Qatar will kick off later this month, almost 12 years after the Gulf state was chosen to host the tournament.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key issues.
When does the tournament begin?
The action starts on Sunday, November 20, with the hosts taking on Ecuador in the opening game at the Al Bayt Stadium.
And when will it finish?
The final will be played on Sunday, December 18 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
What are the key off-field issues?
The decade leading up to the tournament has chiefly focused on migrant worker and LGBTQ+ rights. Labour advocacy groups have attributed thousands of migrant worker deaths in Qatar to infrastructure projects initiated since the World Cup award. The decision to award the finals to a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised has also been criticised, with Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett likening it to allowing apartheid-era South Africa to host the tournament.
Who are the key contenders?
The usual suspects are all lined up, including holders France, five-time winners Brazil and an Argentina side led by Lionel Messi in what is surely going to be his last World Cup.
England fans’ optimism has faded after a disappointing showing in the Nations League this year, with concerns over the form and fitness of a number of key players.
What World Cup firsts can we look forward to?
It is the first finals to be staged in the Middle East, the first to be played in November and December to avoid the searing summer heat of the desert, and the first to feature semi-automated offside technology.
It is also expected to be the first World Cup finals where a female referee takes charge of a match, with Stephanie Frappart among three women on the list of 36 officials for the tournament.
What will the fan experience be like?
On the positive side, the compact nature of the tournament means it is possible for fans to attend more than one game in a single day if they wish to.
The sale of alcohol is strictly controlled in Qatar but will be available in the area immediately outside match venues and fan zones, as well as within hotels.
Concerns remain over what the experience will be like for fans from the LGBTQ+ community, but tournament organisers insist everyone will be welcome.
This will be the last men’s World Cup to feature 32 teams. The number of finalists increases to 48 for the 2026 tournament, which will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox