We are less than 100 days away from the World Cup starting, and there are some key changes you need to know ahead of Qatar 2022.
There will, of course, be obvious differences with this year’s World Cup, like the fact it’s kicking off in November and that this will be the first time a tournament has ever been held in the Arab world — but for the rules of the game itself, changes have also been made.
Instead of a radical overhaul to the structure of the footballing laws, FIFA have made some minor yet important amendments to the rules that should facilitate a more enjoyable and entertaining World Cup. We list those tweaks below.
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FIFA have confirmed that World Cup squads will no longer be comprised of 23 players, but that international managers will have a selection of 26 to choose from. It’s a similar format to Euro 2020 as policy-makers erred on the side of caution amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but this will be the first time the rule has been implemented at a World Cup. However, it should be noted that only 23 players will be allowed to appear in matchday squads, meaning that three players are still set to miss out.
Although a squad expansion may appear a favourable tweak for international managers to broaden their choices, England head coach Gareth Southgate has previously expressed his concern at having a wider array of players to select from. Ahead of Euro 2020, Southgate told BeIN Sports: “Personally I wouldn’t want to have too big of a squad. I think there’s a skill in picking a 23. I think you end up with a lot of players not playing anyway and it’s difficult to manage, it’s hard for the squad to come through. So, I can understand it but I’m not 100 per cent sure if I’m for it.”
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On the decision to expand World Cup squads from 23 to 26, FIFA explained: “Given the need to retain additional flexibility due to the unique timing of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in the global calendar, as well as the broader context of the disruptive effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on squads before and during tournaments, the Bureau has decided the following…
“The maximum number of players on the release list has been increased from 35 to 55. The number of players to be included on the final list has been increased to at least 23 and a maximum of 26. The final matchday at club level for the 23 to 26 players nominated on the final list will be 13 November 2022. No more than 26 people (up to 15 substitutes and 11 team officials – one of these officials must be the team doctor) will be allowed to sit on the team bench.”
Five substitutes allowed
As well as having a bigger squad, international managers can also make up to five substitutes during matches, giving them greater freedom to make tactical tweaks. Although five players can be brought on from the bench, managers only have three windows in which to make those changes. The law expands further if nations go to extra-time in the knockouts. From there, managers may use an additional substitute, and they also have one additional substitution opportunity.
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There will be 36 referees at the World Cup later this year, with FIFA including two each from Argentina, Brazil, England and France — and for the first time in the competition’s history, women referees will officiate games at a major men’s tournament. Among those included are Stephanie Frappart from France, Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan, all of whom will be the first female referees to be appointed to a men’s World Cup. They will be joined by three female assistant referees, which is also a first at a World Cup.