Who else is getting incredibly excited? The days are getting colder, which means we must be getting close to a World Cup, right?
However strange a winter World Cup is, it doesn’t matter; we don’t have at all long to go until the feverish footballing festivities kick off in Qatar, and we cannot wait.
It will be the first time the competition will be hosted in the Middle East, with eight stadiums making their World Cup debuts. We’ll see the first demountable stadium in World Cup history with Doha’s Stadium 974, built out of shipping containers, to be dismantled after the tournament.
Among the eight venues in Qatar hosting World Cup matches, as well as that sustainable stadium, will of course be the host of the showpiece event – a bout between the planet’s two best footballing nations for the ultimate prize.
That battle of wits will be played on Qatar’s east coast in the planned city of Lusail – home to the Lusail Stadium, a classically modern facility that holds a mammoth 80,000 spectators.
Situated around 14 miles north of Qatari capital Doha, the Lusail Stadium was officially opened last November and was inaugurated in September by a Saudi-Egyptian Super Cup – because, why not?
In the first game to be played at the 2022 World Cup final venue, Saudi Pro League champions Al Hilal and Egyptian Premier League title-holders Zamalek played out a 1-1 draw before the Saudi outfit came out on top in a penalty shootout.
77,000 fans turned up to the Lusail Stadium to witness its inauguration on that day, but there’ll be a few more tuned in on 18 December.
If figures match the 2018 World Cup final, where France triumphed over Croatia in a 4-2 thriller to claim their second world title, we can expect a gargantuan 1.12 billion pairs of eyes to watch this year’s final, with a combined viewership of 3.57 billion people for the competition as a whole – over half of the planet’s population at the time.
In fact, FIFA is expecting even more viewers this year than the last World Cup. So looking even further into the future, what can we expect from the 2026 event in Canada, the USA and Mexico – the whole world tuning in?
Whatever the figures, we can already speculate about some of the venues for that North American tournament and think about where the 2026 World Cup final might take place.
Despite the stunning, 87,500-seater Estadio Azteca in Mexico’s capital, the USA will reportedly host every match subsequent to the quarter-final stage. Even with that piece of footballing heritage out of the running, however, there are certainly some appealing contenders.
We could see the world’s best battle it out in Dallas at the 80,000-seater AT&T Stadium, although the frontrunner will surely be New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, home to NFL heavyweights New York Giants and New York Jets, which holds an impressive 82,500 – we never did find out what happened to Tony Soprano, did we?
Let’s take a step back, however, and set our sights on Lusail, where we’ll see the 2022 World Cup champions crowned in mid-December – cue Three Lions by Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds.