This week’s tournament draw will see the birth of a World Cup unlike any other in its 92 year history.

Three of the 32 entries for Friday’s draw ceremony will be placeholders as FIFA and Qatar host the event. This is because the three year qualifying program, which was originally delayed and still ongoing, has been delayed.

The war in Ukraine and a once-in-a century global health crisis created a unique situation.

This means that 37 countries will participate on Friday, five of which won’t play in November when the “winter” World Cup begins.

The complete lineup won’t be available until June 14, when the intercontinental tournament round finishes in Qatar. This is 74 days from the draw, and the same date that the 2018 tournament began in Russia.

FIFA may have been lucky to move the 2022 tournament from Qatar to November and December seven years ago to avoid the scorching desert heat of Qatar’s hot summer.

This allowed for a later start, which was necessary after the COVID-19 pandemic that decimated nearly every national-team game in Europe in 2020 had left little room for clearing the match backlog.

It also created uncertainty at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. The show Friday begins at 7 p.m. (13600 GMT) and lasts for one hour.

One ball drawn from pot 4 will be for “Peru, Australia or the United Arab Emirates” and another is for “Ukraine, Wales or Scotland.”

It’s the same story at this important World Cup milestone in possibly its most unlikely host country, April 1.

This is a unique World Cup draw.


Qatar will be the top-seeded side in Group A and will take position A1 in the 64 matches scheduled in just 28 days.

All host nations are eligible for the privilege, even if they are ranked No. 65, just like Russia. Qatar currently ranks No. 52.

Despite not qualifying for the finals, the Asian Cup winner in 2019 is an exception to the rule. Qatar will open the tournament at Al Bayt Stadium on Monday, November 21st.

This means that Qatar is able to avoid the top-ranked teams in the group stage, starting at Nos. 1-7 — Brazil, Belgium France, Argentina England Spain, Portugal, France, France and Belgium.

These countries will be the seven next drawn from top-seeded pot 1, and then allocated to Groups B through C.


The FIFA rankings are used to fill the seeding pots. These rankings are updated every Thursday.

Pot 2 will draw the next eight highest-ranked players. After Wednesday’s qualifying games, it includes Germany as well as the United States and Mexico.

Pot 3 will be next with countries ranked in the 20s FIFA. Finally, pot 4 will include Canada, which is back in the World Cup after a gap of 36 years. Canada is now in pot 4, despite being the North American qualifying team leader.

This simple format has been complicated by three playoff entries that were delayed to June: the European bracket, which includes Ukraine, and the intercontinental playoffs.

FIFA weighted these entries down into pot 4, based on the potential qualifiers with the lowest ranking, such as New Zealand, Scotland and the UAE.

Wales and Peru are higher-ranked teams in the playoffs. They will be seeded lower than their true level.


Potential match-ups are also limited by geography. Except for some Europeans, teams from the same continent can’t be in the same group. Europe holds 13 of 31 qualifying slots, and they can’t all be avoided.

Five groups receive two European teams and the three other groups each one. This means that 2014 winner Germany can now join the defending champion France.


Each round-robin consists of six games for each four-team team. Another draw is used to determine the order in which each team plays the others.

Each team is then drawn and a second ball, either 1, 2, 3, or 4, is chosen to place the country on the fixture grid.

Unpredictability means that the highest-ranking teams of a group can meet in any one of the three rounds.


A knockout bracket is ideal for 32 teams. The round of 16 will be decided by the top two teams from each group.

The bracket shows the path a team will take to reach the final, semi-finals and final. Qatar must play the Group A runner-up if it is to advance as Group A winner.

Teams that advance from the same group can’t meet again until the final.

Good Drawing, Bad Drawing?

Is there a “good”, or “bad” part of the draw that you can land in?

This congested tournament will likely prove to be a success, and it will take place four days earlier than the 2018 Russian edition.

If you land in Group B, it means that you start on Nov. 21 in Group G or A and not Nov. 24, in Group H. This means that there are three additional rest days.

To win the title, the Group G winner must play seven games in 25 days. This team gets two days off before the round of 16 games on Dec. 5.

What is the reason for this tight schedule? The World Cup has forced Europe’s domestic league seasons to take a break.

Europe’s top leagues resisted losing lucrative weekend broadcast slots and made sure they would play through Nov. 13, just eight days before the kickoff in Qatar.