Friday, 18 November 2022

The 2022 World Cup is here

The Beginning

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THE 2022 WORLD CUP IS HERE

Welcome to the only guide you’re going to need for this year’s World Cup: After almost 12 years of build-up, 865 qualifying games and 2424 goals, we’re only two days away from the start of the 2022 Cup. The 32 squads have arrived and fans are on their way to Doha, where at 18:00 CLT on Sunday the hosts will play Ecuador in the first game of the tournament.

This will be a World Cup of firsts: the first time the tournament comes to the Middle East; the first time a country with a population half the size of Alexandria hosts the tournament; and likely ranked first on the all-time “most controversial World Cups” list.

And a first for us, too: This is the first time that Your Wealth has been sent out mid-way through the month, timed to coincide with the start of the tournament. If Qatar can get away with putting European football on ice for a whole month, we hope you’ll forgive us for keeping you folks waiting an extra two weeks for your essential guide to Qatar 2022.

THE WORLD CUP: A BRIEF HISTORY

Life before the World Cup: Football in the late 19th century existed in a vastly different landscape than it does today. Sure, many enjoyed the sport then but strict rules hadn’t yet come into play and international matchups were still virtually unheard of. This was a time well before football had become the multi-bn USD global behemoth it is today and before the emergence of the Olympic Games, the World Cup or any international tournament for that matter.

It wasn’t until 1870 that a contest between two countries was held: The English Football Association was responsible for bringing together a group of Scottish men living in London at the time to face off against a team of English players for a historic game that ended in a 1-1 draw, researcher Andy Mitchell notes in his book First Elevens. Two years later the first official international match was played between England and Scotland in Glasgow.

The birth of Fifa: As football became increasingly internationalized at the turn of the century, there was an increasing need to set up a global body to oversee cross-border games. Though England initially refused to get involved, the football associations of France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany came together in 1904 to form the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) in Paris. By the time the First World War broke out 10 years later, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, the US and Canada were also counted among its members.

Towards a World Cup: Third Fifa president Jules Rimet was an instrumental figure in the development of international football. It was under his leadership in 1928 that Fifa began preparations to hold the first World Cup, laying the groundwork for the emergence of the competition we all know today. Rimet’s name was inscribed on the original trophy, which was replaced in 1974 by the solid gold Fifa World Cup Trophy we all know today.

Uruguay held the first-ever World Cup in 1930: After clinching gold in two consecutive Olympic games in 1924 and 1928 and offering to cover travel and accommodation costs for all players involved with the competition, Fifa awarded Uruguay the rights to host the first-ever World Cup. The competition wasn’t quite what its organizers had in mind after most European countries refused to make the trip across the Atlantic. Only four teams from the continent competed in the tournament, something Uruguay clearly took as an affront as it opted to boycott the 1934 competition in Italy despite being the reigning world champions.

It was in 1934 that Egypt made its debut at the competition: The Egyptian Football Association officially joined Fifa in 1923 a few years after the Pharaohs made their international debut at the 1920 Olympics. In 1934 Egypt became the first African country to qualify for the World Cup after easily beating Mandatory Palestine in its qualifying group. Egypt ended up exiting the competition at the first hurdle with a 4-2 loss against Hungary. Abdel Rahman Fawzy — who is tied with Mohamed Salah as the country’s record World Cup goalscorer — netted twice for Egypt in under five minutes.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that the World Cup evolved into the international competition we know today: Following a 12-year hiatus caused by World War Two, the World Cup returned in 1950 with a 13-team tournament in Brazil and was followed up with a championship in Switzerland four years later — Rimet’s final World Cup as head of Fifa. Since 1950, the tournament has been held every four years, growing in size and Fifa expanding to include almost every country on the planet.

QATAR 2022

It’s Qatar: The small island nation in the Arabian Gulf has been building to this moment for more than a decade. It was back in 2010 that it was revealed that Qatar would become the first Arab nation to host a World Cup; a controversial bidding process that saw it win against rival bids from the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

This will be the first time ever that the World Cup will be held in November: Typically, the World Cup is held in June and July to avoid clashing with the European football season, but holding the tournament in a country like Qatar — where the mercury regularly surpasses 40°C in the summer months — was a tough prospect for the players, irrespective of whether the stadiums are air-conditioned. The only real option was to shift it to later in the year when temperatures are cooler; a decision that wasn’t received warmly in Europe, whose leagues are being forced to take a six-week break to accommodate the tournament.

And the biggest global event to hit Qatar: Qatar, home to about 2.9 mn people, expects to receive some 1.7 mn fans during the four-week competition. Official estimates (pdf) suggest that at its peak Qatar will have about half a mn visitors in the country at once, increasing its total population by almost another 20%. To absorb the legions of fans, Qatar has constructed spectator villages with rooms made out of shipping containers, floating hotels, designated camping areas and is encouraging locals to host fans through home-sharing apps like Airbnb.

But don’t expect this World Cup to be the beer-soaked event it usually is: Despite the country’s strict rules on alcohol consumption, Qatar is allowing beer to be sold in public places at the tournament, but only in certain areas and at certain times. Budweiser will have exclusive rights to sell beer to spectators but only in the three hours before kick-off and for one hour after games, according to Reuters. People will not be able to buy alcohol during matches and will not be allowed to drink inside stadiums. The company will also be able to sell drinks at the Fifa fan zone in downtown Doha in the evenings.

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Eight stadiums in and around Doha are hosting matches: The Al Bayt Stadium and the Lusail Stadium are the two largest in Qatar’s roster and will be hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Cup this year. Al Bayt, whose design draws inspiration from a traditional Arab tent, has capacity for 60k people, while Lusail Stadium can hold up to 80k fans. The remaining six stadiums are Ahmed Bin Ali, Al Janoub, Al Thumama, Education City, Khalifa International and Stadium 974, the latter of which is built entirely out of shipping containers. All six stadiums are capped at 40k spectators. You can find out more about them here.

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There’s no World Cup without an official mascot: For Qatar it's La'eeb. Every four years host countries draw up new mascots designed to represent their culture and the games. This year Qatar has gone with a ghostly figure — effectively an anthropomorphic Qatari ghutrah (or headdress) — designed by Iranian artist Hussein Ogagi dubbed La’eeb — which translates to player, or rather a particularly skilled player. The country has broadcast a series of animated shorts starring La’eeb in the run up to the tournament. You can check out the first episode here (watch, runtime: 4:43).

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Bring on the tunes: This year’s official World Cup soundtrack so far includes three songs. The first to be released was Hayya Hayya (Better Together), a collab between Qatari singer Aisha, American R&B singer Trinidad Cardona, and Nigerian singer Davido (watch, runtime: 3:35). This was followed up by Puerto Rican singer Ozuna’s Arhbo (watch, runtime: 3:46) and Light The Sky featuring Rahma Riad, Balqees, Nora Fatehi and Manal (watch, runtime: 4:18). Meanwhile, Lil Baby brings some questionable lines and suspect sampling to his Budweiser-backed “The World Is Yours To Take” (watch, runtime: 2:47).

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Qatar will for the first time be joining the competition: As the host country of the World Cup, Qatar gains automatic qualification to the tournament, marking the country’s first time competing. This is only the second time in history a country will be participating in the contest without ever having qualified (the first country to do so was Italy in the second ever World Cup in 1934).

Their prospects? The Annabi team has only once before taken the Asian Cup and secured the Gulf Cup on three occasions. The national team has participated in the Copa America in 2019 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021 as invitees. One of the players to watch is striker Al Moez Ali, who was named best player in the 2019 Asian Cup and was the top scorer in the 2021 Golden Cup. Winger Akram Afif was named the best local player in Asia in 2019 and defender Abdul Karim Hassan was named the best local player in Asia in 2018. Meanwhile, midfielder Abdallah Al Ahraq isn’t in the squad due to injury.

THE GROUPS

GROUP A-

🇶🇦 Qatar

🇪🇨 Ecuador

🇸🇳 Senegal

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Qatar (ranked #50 in the world): Host country and first time to compete at a World Cup.

Ecuador (#44): This will be Ecuador’s fourth time at the competition and first appearance since 2014. The furthest the Ecuadorians have got was the last 16 in 2006 where they bowed out of the competition with a 1-0 loss to England.

Senegal (#18): Qatar 2022 will be Senegal’s third time playing in the competition. The country made its World Cup debut back in 2002, reaching the quarter-finals where they were beaten by Turkey.

The Netherlands (#8): A fan-favorite despite having never won the competition and missing out entirely from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This will be the team’s eleventh appearance at the World Cup having made its debut appearance in Italy in 1990. They’ve made it to the final on three occasions, the last time being in 2010.

GROUP B-

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England

🇮🇷 Iran

🇺🇸 USA

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Wales

England (#5): Another fan-favorite and one of top contenders for the title this year. They came in fourth place last time around in Russia in 2018 and were narrowly beaten by the Italians in the final of last year’s European Championship. On only one occasion have England made it to the World Cup final and that was back in 1966 when they clinched the title in a controversial match against West Germany.

Iran (#20): It’ll be Iran’s sixth appearance in this year’s competition in Doha, where the country will be looking to make it out of the group stage for the first time.

United States (#16): The US will be making its 11th appearance at the World Cup this year and was among the 13 countries who made it to the inaugural competition in Uruguay in 1930, coming in third place. It has been downhill since then though, failing to qualify for many of the competitions including Russia 2018. The country’s best recent showing was in 2002 when it reached the quarter finals.

Wales (#19): It’ll only be Wales’ second time around joining the World Cup this year. The only other occasion where it qualifie was in 1958 when it made it to the quarter finals and lost against Brazil.

GROUP C-

🇦🇷 Argentina

🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia

🇲🇽 Mexico

🇵🇱 Poland

Argentina (#3): As always, Argentina is a top contender for the title. The Argentines have twice won the cup, though we have to go back to 1986 — when Diego Maradona guided the team to famous victories against England and West Germany — for their last win. This will likely be Lionel Messi’s final opportunity to get his hands on the trophy: will this year be the year?

Saudi Arabia (#51): This will be Saudi Arabia’s sixth appearance at the World Cup since 1994 when the national team first qualified for the competition. Having failed to make it out the group stage since their 1994 debut, making it to the knockouts will be the target.

Mexico (#13): Another team with a Uruguay 1930 debut, Mexico has only missed 5 World Cups in the competition's history. The country has exited the competition in the round of 16 at every competition since 1994, and will be looking to go one better this year by making it to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986.

Poland (#26): This will be Poland’s second time in the competition in the past 12 years, having failed to qualify in 2010 and 2014. The Poles had an easier route to the World Cup this year after their semi-final playoff opponent Russia was kicked out of the competition for invading Ukraine. Last time round, Poland failed to get out of the group stage.

GROUP D-

🇫🇷 France

🇦🇺 Australia

🇩🇰 Denmark

🇹🇳 Tunisia

France (#4): Major favorite, France, is defending its title this year after winning in Russia in 2018. After crashing out of last year’s Euros in the last 16, Les Bleus will be looking to bounce back on the international stage with a strong showing in Qatar.

Australia (#38): it’s Australia’s sixth appearance at the World Cup this year. The team turned out its best performance in 2006, reaching the round of 16.

Denmark (#10): Also on its sixth go at the World Cup, Denmark’s best-ever performance was back in 1998 when it made it to the quarter-finals against Brazil.

Tunisia (#30): Yet another team up for its sixth time at the World Cup, Tunisia is among the underdogs of the competition, having never made it past the group stage.

GROUP E-

🇪🇸 Spain

🇨🇷 Costa Rica

🇩🇪 Germany

🇯🇵 Japan

Spain (#7): Since winning the trophy in South Africa in 2010, Spain have failed to impress, falling at the first hurdle in 2014 and bowing out in the last 16 in 2018. The Spaniards have a tough group this year, too, with Germany and Japan also competing for a top-two finish.

Costa Rica (#31): The weakest side in the group, Costa Rica have made it to the competition for the sixth time since 1990, when it first qualified for the World Cup. The Central American side went on a shock run to the quarter-finals in 2014 where they were eventually eliminated by the Netherlands in a tense penalty shoot-out.

Germany (#11): The Germans have faded as a global force since winning the World Cup in 2014 and reaching two consecutive Euro semi-finals in 2012 and 2016. Following victory in Brazil, Joachim Low’s men exited the 2018 tournament at the group stage and were beaten in the round of 16 at the 2020 Euros by England.

Japan (#24): Japan has been consistently qualifying for the World Cup since it made its debut in France in 1998. The Japanese have made it to the Round of 16 three times since first qualifying, most recently in Russia in 2018.

GROUP F-

🇧🇪 Belgium

🇨🇦 Canada

🇲🇦 Morocco

🇭🇷 Croatia

Belgium (#2): Belgium has had one of the best teams in recent years but has failed to make their mark on the tournament. Kevin de Bruyne and co. came in third place in Russia four years ago and will be looking to go one further in Qatar and make their first final in history.

Canada (#41): The Canadians will be showing up for what will be only their second World Cup. Canada hasn’t qualified for the competition since 1986 when the team struggled to make it past the group stage and was eliminated with no goals scored and zero points to their name.

Morocco (#22): Morocco will be making its sixth appearance at a World Cup this year. Since making its debut in 1970, the country’s high point in the competition came in 1986 when they made it through the last 16.

Croatia (#12): Another big name to look out for this year is Croatia, who were the beaten finalists in 2018. Croatia has been a mainstay of the games since they first qualified in 1998 after the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

GROUP G-

🇧🇷 Brazil

🇷🇸 Serbia

🇨🇭 Switzerland

🇨🇲 Cameroon

Brazil (#1): The most successful World Cup team in the competition’s history and one of the favorites to win it this year. Brazil is the only country to have never missed a World Cup since its founding 92 years ago and has won five out of the seven finals they’ve played in.

Serbia (#21): This year will be Serbia’s fourth appearance in the tournament. The team first qualified in 2006 (after the breakup of Yugoslavia) as Serbia and Montenegro. They were back again in 2010 and 2018 but only as Serbia and have never successfully got past the group stage.

Switzerland (#15): The Swiss will make their 12th World Cup appearance in Doha. Switzerland has made it through to the last 16 in the last two tournaments, and hasn’t progressed further since 1954 when it reached the quarter-finals.

Cameroon (#43): Cameroon is in the tournament for the first time since 2014. The West African nation has bowed out at the group stage the last four times it has competed at the World Cup; the last time it got further was in 1990 when it reached the quarter-finals.

GROUP H-

🇵🇹 Portugal

🇬🇭 Ghana

🇺🇾 Uruguay

🇰🇷 South Korea

Portugal (#9): Portugal is looking strong going into Qatar this year and ranks inside the top 10. Despite having Cristiano Ronaldo in its ranks, the team has never gotten further than the round of 16 in the last three tournaments. Its best showing in recent history was in 2006 when it lost to France in the semi-final.

Ghana (#61): Ghana is the lowest-ranked team heading to Doha. The West African nation made its World Cup debut in 2006, and is best known for its dramatic quarter-final loss against Uruguay in 2010 which ended in a penalty shoot-out.

Uruguay (#14): Uruguay has missed only eight competitions since 1930 when it hosted the first-ever World Cup. The Urguayans have taken home the title twice since the competition was formed but the last victory came over 70 years ago when they won in Brazil in 1950.

South Korea (#28): South Korea will be making its 11th appearance this year. After a 30+ year spell away from the competition, the Asian nation has qualified for every competition since 1986. The high point came when it hosted the tournament with Japan in 2002, which saw them get through to the semi-finals.

YOUR TOP 5

Your top 5 pieces of business and economic news in October 2022:

  • Egypt and the IMF agreed a USD 3 bn bailout package, unlocking vital funding for the government via a 46-month extended fund facility.
  • The Central Bank of Egypt devalued the currency for the second time this year, causing the EGP to fall more than 16% to hit a fresh record low against the greenback.
  • Inflation hit its highest level in nearly four years in September amid broad-based price increases across the economy.
  • Read our five-step recipe to boost exports + FDI.
  • The Saudi sovereign wealth fund acquired a 34% stake in retailer BTECH from Africa-focused investment firm DPI.

TEAMS TO WATCH

THE FAVORITES?

Ask most bookmakers this year and they’ll tell you that Brazil are favorites to claim the trophy for a record sixth time — and for good reason. The Brazilians have quality all over the pitch: they have two of the best goalkeepers in the world in Liverpool’s Alisson and Man City’s Ederson; a solid center-back pairing in Marquinhos and Thiago Silva; Casemiro and Fabinho in midfield; and one of the best attacking units in the competition featuring Neymar, and Vinicius Junior. What’s more, injuries aren’t a problem for the side with all of its key players fit and heading to Qatar.

Brazil should have no trouble getting out of the group: Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon shouldn’t pose a serious threat to the Brazilians in the opening three games of the competition, which should see them finish top of the group. Assuming they win the group, the Seleção Canarinho will likely face one of Portugal or Uruguay in the round of 16 and potentially one of Spain, Germany or Belgium in the quarters.

Odds: 4/1

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THE DISAPPOINTMENTS?

France has had a rough year: The defending champions, France are coming off a disappointing Euro 2020 bid that saw them suffer a shock loss to Switzerland in the round of 16. They also failed to get out of the group in this year’s Uefa Nations League, finishing third in the group behind Croatia and Denmark.

Didier Deschamps has a wealth of talent at his disposal: The team boasts perhaps the strongest front line in the competition with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele.

But injuries abound: Defensive rock Raphael Varane is doubtful after limping off the field last month while key midfielders N’golo Kante (hamstring) and Paul Pogba (knee surgery) have been ruled out.

Where they finish in the group will be key: A team of France’s quality should ease past their group, but whether they come first or second will be key. A first-place finish will set them up for a possible last-16 tie against Poland or Mexico while coming in second puts them at risk of playing Argentina in the next round and England in the quarter-finals.

Odds: 6/1

England’s eternal averageness to endure? Despite making it to the semis in the 2018 World Cup and the final of last year’s Euros, Gareth Southgate’s defensive-minded set-up has rendered the team unspectacular on the pitch and toothless in front of goal. England had a terrible Nations League this year, finishing bottom of the group and being demolished 4-0 by low-ranked Hungary.

But they have the squad to go far: England goes into the competition ranked fifth in the world and the team does have lots of attacking talent: Tottenham’s Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world, Man City’s Phil Foden and Jack Grealish are two of the most dynamic midfielders in the Premier League, while Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling and Arsenal Bukayo Saka are dangerous on the wings.

A tough route: Should they make it out of their group, they will likely face one of Senegal or the Netherlands in the last 16 and potentially one of France or Argentina in the quarter-finals.

Odds: 7/1

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THE DARK HORSE?

Senegal could go far this year: Fresh off victory in the 2021 African Cup of Nations, Senegal will be looking to make their mark on this year’s World Cup. The West African nation has not traditionally been a heavy-hitter in the tournament and Qatar 2022 will be only the third time it has competed. The high water mark in the country’s World Cup history came at its debut in 2002 when it made it through to the quarter-finals only to be beaten 1-0 by Turkey. The only other time it made an appearance was in Russia four years ago when it failed to get out of the group.

The Senegalese have world-class talent in their ranks, but will have to compete without their best player, Sadio Mane, who was ruled out of the tournament yesterday with a leg injury. Still, Edouard Mendy is one of the finest goalkeepers around (despite an iffy start to the season) while Kalidou Koulibaly is an imposing central defender.

And they have a favorable group: The Senegalese have been drawn with two of the lowest-ranked teams in the competition in their group — Qatar (#50) and Ecuador (#44) — putting qualification to the knockouts within reach.

But how far can they go? Senegal will face either the winners or second-placed team in Group B depending on whether they come second in their group or pip the Dutch to first place. This will hand them a tie with one of England, Iran, the US or Wales in the last 16. Making it through to the quarter-finals could see them play France or Argentina for a place in the semis.

Odds: 80/1

GET INVOLVED

Where to watch: If you’re not among the lucky few to have scored tickets, you’ll be tuning in to the games on beIN Sports which holds the exclusive rights to broadcast the tournament in the Middle East and North Africa.

How much is it going to set you back? The company has yet to publicly announce a subscription rate but a representative of CNE, beIN’s official partner in Egypt, told us that a World Cup package will cost EGP 2013.

But it's not the only way to watch: You can also go for a beIN’s Connect subscription, which gives you online access to the games. Or, of course, head on down to your local cafes and coffee shops for the cheapest way to catch the games.

For schedules and stats look no further than EnterprisePM: Keep your eyes locked to the sports section of our evening newsletter EnterprisePM for a daily rundown of the most important matches and events taking place at the World Cup this year. If you’re looking for a little more, download the Fifa Plus app (Android | iPhone) and SofaScore (Android | iPhone) for the latest news, clips and statistics coming out from Qatar.

The Enterprise Fantasy World Cup is here: Much like it did back in 2018, Fifa has launched a Fantasy World Cup, and much like we’re doing for the 2022-2023 Premier League season, Enterprise has set up its very own league. Get involved by clicking here and entering the code SZJ507VP. We’ll be handing out a very special prize to the winner. What’s more, everyone who signs up will be entered by Fifa into a draw to win two tickets to the final.

And for the die hard fan, you can get your hands on a World Cup sticker album: Panini’s World Cup sticker albums are available for EGP 50 in some stores in Cairo while a pack will cost EGP 25. Panini also has a mobile app where you can virtually collect and share stickers, which you can download here (AndroidiPhone).

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