Firsts in football, courtesy the 2022 FIFA World Cup

2022 FIFA World Cup

A recurring fest in global anticipation, a gala show of revelry and rivalry, an event steeped in the spirit of the sporting and a whole world waiting with bated breath for the ultimate reign of the new champions of that craze called soccer- the FIFA World Cup has to be one of the dramatically defining spectacles of the universe. Quadrennial in its occurrence and multilineal in the avenues of its exploring, with sporting spectacularities and concerning controversies playing out in tandem across the dimensions of the pitching field, this is very definitely one of the biggest such events of the human world.

And so would the 2022 FIFA World Cup already underway by now at this unconventional time of the year be, promising even more engrossing a dive into the sporting world with its residing in so many facets fascinatingly unique. That it spans out as a global celebration almost, after a couple of ‘futile’ years characterised by the coronavirus pandemic isn’t however the only basis of remarkability for this 22nd edition of the extravaganza. Qatar 2022 is quirky indeed a game of football like it has never been and in ways and means that will be resetting the standards of the tournament in one of its most different organisings.

Precisely every element of what shapes up the World Cup identity has received a fillip in this latest happening- right from the time of the year and the duration of the tournament to the mascot and the venue, pretty much everything in 2022 has spanned out to be a characteristic identity in its own. Here’s taking a look at some of such exclusivities even as you get all charged up to catch up on all the action of this thrilling kicks and goals of the ball-

First ever Middle Eastern host

Hosted by the State of Qatar, the 2022 FIFA World Cup marks the first time ever of the premier football tournament being held in a Middle Eastern country. A successful bid made in 2010 granted Qatar the hosting rights of the 22nd edition, earning the distinction of being the first country from the Arab World to organise this large scale unfurling of the football phenomenon.

Smallest ever geographical dimensions

Qatar however isn’t distinctive in just being the first Middle Eastern host of the World Cup. It also is the smallest nation ever in geographical terms for this largest event of football to gain centerstage. The closest the FIFA tournament had come to being such a ‘confined’ event in terms of space was way back in 1954 when Switzerland hosted the fifth edition across an expanse still as three times as large as the current venue in composition.

Less than a month long tournament

FIFA World Cup 2022
Source: SportsAdda

It isn’t only the size of the 2022 host that has been ‘concised’ in area specifications. It also is the duration of the event that has been scaled down as well, with all action packed into less than a month long schedule. To be specific, it is exactly 29 days across which the Qatar 2022 will be held with the final match slated to coincide with the country’s National Day on December 18.

First ever Winter World Cup

The December date of the finale is unique not just in the relevance it has for the host country. It also is unlike any other time that the FIFA event has been traditionally happening as a summer time extravaganza. The harsh weather conditions characterising Qatar during the usual June- July period of the tournament meant that the 2022 World Cup had to be pushed back by half a year to emerge as a winter opportunity in enjoyment.

Last of a 32 teamed World Cup

Qatar 2022 is distinctive also in being the last World Cup to be played with 32 teams. The next edition to take place as the 2026 tournament across three countries in America will see a number of 48 teams take to the pitch in battling it out against each other.

First ever host nation to lose its opening match

Another area of distinction in which Qatar has come to be in its already unique hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be one less distinguished though. In losing the opening match of the tournament against Ecuador, the first time players of the sport at this premier event became also the first ever host nation to falter in its maiden outing.

First time ever for women referees officiating at the men’s premier event

FIFA 2022 would be trailblazing also in being the first ever edition of the event to have women referees officiating at its flagship men tournament. The female referees to be pride bearers of this legacy in officiating the men’s Football World Cup are Stéphanie Frappart from France, Salima Mukansanga from Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan.

First ever costume based mascot

la'eeb world-cup-mascot-2022
Source: CO3D

As one of the first major sporting events from which the concept of the mascot became a mainstream necessity, the FIFA World Cup has always been known in its each edition by a specific mascot. And while every single of such representations of the host country that serves as the official mascot of that particular edition has been unique, Qatar 2022 is unique still in a way that has never been.

La’eeb is the name of the mascot this year and one that is different in more ways than one from his predecessors. Because while the very meaning of his Arabic name is a super skilled player, this fun loving creature with a ‘youthful spirit’ is not any floral or faunal model of the Qatari representation. La’eeb instead is the evocation of an Arabic costume called the ghutrah, a type of headress worn by men. In its mascot form, the representation has been conceived as a white floating entity with eyes, eyebrows and an open mouth, instantly endearing and very adorable and friendly indeed in his very appearance.

First ever mascot from a parallel universe

la'eeb mascotverse
Source: Opoyi

La’eeb is also unique in emerging from the parallel universe of the ‘mascotverse’. Very inventive indeed is everything about the character of this carefully curated FIFA mascot, from its allegiance to the Now is All belief to even its further devising as a cryptocurrency!

First ever environment friendly and fastest ever Official Match Ball

If La’eeb is the very relevant mascot of the World Cup’s most modern edition, then the official match ball of the 2022 spectacle is not any less remarkable as well. The Adidas Al Rihla is claimed to be the “the fastest and most accurate FIFA World Cup ball to date” even as it happens to be also the first such specimen to be completely made with water based and therefore environment- friendly inks and adhesives. Designed with a priority on sustainability and evoking a philosophy of the journey or excursion in its Arabic name, the Al Rihla endows upon Qatar 2022 even more unique a footballing identity than what it already is.

First ever full fledged World Cup album

Even the music of the 2022 World Cup flows out as a tune as different as it could be from its earlier versions. With not just a single theme song but an entire album to celebrate even further the uniqueness of the current edition, Qatar 2022 is undoubtedly the most dramatic of all buildups that World Cup preparations have always seen.

Most expensive edition

Another distinction about the FIFA World Cup expresses in terms of the monetary and in such claims unique again in alluding. With minimal infrastructure to boast of when it acquired the 2010 bid for hosting the event, it is staggering indeed an expenditure of a more than 200 billion dollars that Qatar has incurred ever since to clearly be the most expensive FIFA World Cup. That however is confounding still a notion in spending, since the country is expected to generate for itself a revenue of just some 6.5 billion dollars in hosting this prestigious but pricey tournament.

Most controversial edition

The cost of constructing what counts as infrastructure necessary for sporting events, stadiums most prominently, might have amounted to be an unprecedented account by a more than whopping margin. But equally hard-hitting has been the supposed reality lurking in the shadows of these ambitious constructions. With claims that as many as 6500 migrant workers have passed away in their involvement in these inhuman conditions of work, the Qatar 2022 World Cup is one dubious also in its appalling record of human rights violation.

Least number of stadiums

fifa world cup 2022 stadiums
Source: Dezeen

The extent of these constructions though have also spurred another distinction for the 22nd edition of the FIFA Men’s world cup. That relates to the more convenient location of the stadiums in which the matches are scheduled to be held. Due to it being a rather small space of existence, it are just eight stadiums in total that will see all the action playing out in their packed confines. The strategic location of the six stadiums in the national capital Doha itself too are such that barely exceeds the 30 mile radius. That is though an occurring in much efficiency- one that conveniently counters the travelling time involved to compress the duration of the tournament while ensuring that the challenge of space is well addressed.

First ever air conditioned stadiums

Qatar 2022 does indeed rely much on its stadiums to get the job done. Thus besides dealing with the concerns of too small a space and too short a period of time, the venues have also been built such that offsets the not so pleasant character of its climate. It might emerge as weird indeed that football matches would be played out at air conditioned stadiums but like the many debuts that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is setting the stage for, this provision of temperature regulated stadiums too is one of epoch making essence.