1) Robotic offsides
It’s a brand new chapter in VAR’s “undisputable success story”, says Fifa: 12 roof-level limb-tracking cameras plus an in-ball sensor. When the information hits, a robotic attracts toenail traces for the VAR; the VAR checks them, tells the referee and sends a 3D mannequin to broadcasters. Fifa says it can reduce the typical 70-second wait earlier than a purpose might be celebrated all the way down to “simply 25 seconds” – and anybody who says it’s sucking the life out of soccer is mistaken: “We’re very pleased with this work.” Additionally new this winter: an opportunity to see greater than half a beginning XI subbed off in a sport – 5 subs in regular time and one other in further time – whereas benches will develop to fifteen gamers, up from 12.
2) Feminine referees
At welcome odds with regional vibes, three of the 36 referees are, for the primary time in males’s World Cup historical past, feminine: Japan’s Yamashita Yoshimi, the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and Stéphanie Frappart of France – as are three of 69 assistants. Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor are the Premier League faces, whereas Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe makes the reduce regardless of a tricky Africa Cup of Nations in January the place he ended a sport early twice in three minutes, blaming warmth exhaustion.
3) This mascot
At La’eeb’s launch in April, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Supply & Legacy performed up his lack of fastened id and requested followers to inform them what he appeared like. “Use your creativeness … La’eeb is whoever a soccer fan desires him to be.” That went in addition to could possibly be anticipated – followers shortly agreeing he seems most just like the ghost of a useless migrant employee. The official biog has tightened since then: La’eeb, that means “super-skilled participant”, is an “adventurous, enjoyable, curious” sprite based mostly on a ghutra headdress who “comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world the place all mascots stay”.
4) Official songs
Most World Cups need to get by with just one official music. Qatar has the “Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022™ Official Soundtrack” as a substitute – “a part of Fifa’s revamped music technique”. Among the many tracks are Hayya Hayya by Trinidad Cardona, Davido and Aisha, refrain: “Yo yo yo, yo ho, You already know we higher collectively”; and Mild the Sky by Rahma, Balqees, Nora and Manal, whose message is far more Doha: “In the event you really feel like a star, then you definately really feel like me, Gotta deal with your self, like a VIP.”
5) The opening ceremony
Sunday 20 November, earlier than Qatar v Ecuador. Rumoured acts embrace Waka Waka’s Shakira, BTS and the Fifa Official Soundtrack artists, all there to “rejoice and embody every part the Fifa World Cup stands for”. It’ll be held at Al Bayt Stadium, the place 28-year-old Nepalese migrant Sanjib Raya died of coronary heart failure working a 12-hour shift in 40-degree warmth for £1 an hour.
6) The official ball
Adidas’s Al Rihla has “Speedshell PU pores and skin” impressed by “the tradition, structure, iconic boats and flag of Qatar”, with “macro- and microtextures and floor debossing”, “CRT-Core” know-how and a robust PR sport. Yours for £130. Fifa says “it travels sooner in flight than any ball within the event’s historical past”, which has similarities to what they stated about 2010’s Jabulani. So, fingers crossed.
7) Air-cooling know-how
A lot for followers of air-cooling pipes to take pleasure in: seven of the eight grounds are geared up with chilled water-based aircon techniques. Fifa denies that the tech, together with new roads and 150 flights a day, can have a unfavorable environmental affect; with organisers making a “landmark” carbon neutrality pledge. Or as Carbon Market Watch referred to as it in Could, an “completely not credible carbon neutrality pledge”.
8) Different details
David Beckham confronted loads of criticism for taking a reported £10m a yr to sportswash Qatar, however hasn’t been sluggish to shine a lightweight on the nation, together with in this video about visiting Qatar, launched in August: “Qatar actually is an unbelievable place to spend a couple of days on a stopover. The trendy and conventional fuse to create one thing actually particular. It’s the most effective spice markets that I’ve ever been to. This may go down as one in every of my favorite mornings. That is perfection.” Count on extra positivity elsewhere, too, with the Supreme Committee giving 400 social media-influencing followers free journeys in return for constructive feedback. Influencers needed to signal a code of conduct making clear “it might clearly not be applicable so that you can disparage Qatar [or] the Supreme Committee”, and: “You perceive that the Supreme Committee can be monitoring your posts.”
9) Managers giving half-time interviews
Although possibly not many: Fifa’s new half-time flash interview slot is “not obligatory”. The BBC and ITV share the TV rights this winter – as much as 4 video games a day from 10am plus highlights, making for scheduling pressure: Strictly’s quarter- and semi-finals have been bumped to Friday 2 and Sunday 11 December, whereas Matt Hancock’s deliberate win within the I’m a Superstar ultimate is up towards Spain v Germany.