The world's biggest and most beautiful game brings it premier sporting event back for its 21st run. That’s right, it’s the FIFA World Cup! 32 international teams will battle it out in front of billions to lay claim to the title of the best team in the world.
The last World Cup final was watched by over 1 billion eyeballs in 2014 and so it’s safe to say it certainly has its appeal. But if you’re one of those people who will be scratching their heads in confusion this summer, here’s our short and sweet guide to the FIFA World Cup...
So how does it all work?
32 international teams from across the globe have made it through a qualifying process that originally included 211 teams. After whittling it down to 32 countries the nations are placed into 8 groups of 4 teams. All 4 teams will play each other once with points being awarded for wins (3pts) and draws (1pt).
After the completion of all games, the top two teams will qualify from their respective groups and enter the single elimination phase known as the “knockout stage”.
The qualified teams will be drawn against opponents in the “last 16” and they will aim to get through 3 stages in order to reach the final. The two teams who emerge unscathed will meet in the final with the winner being crowned world champion. You still with me here?
What’s a Mo Salah?
Pharaoh? King? Emperor of football? Those are just a few titles I’ve heard over the past year. Egypt’s talismanic attacker Mohamad Salah Ghaly has captured the hearts of Muslims across the globe with his awe-inspiring performances on the football pitch. For his domestic club, Mo netted an astounding 34 goals and is in serious contention for the title of the best player in the world. (Yup, like Messi and Ronaldo level).
His popularity across the Muslim world isn’t only fuelled by his performances. Off the pitch, he is a respected role model and devoted adherent to Islam. God bless you, Mohamad!
What Islamic nations will be playing?
6 Muslim majority nations will be playing including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia and Iran. Nigeria will also be playing.
Who are the other Muslim stars to watch out for?
Aside from the above mentioned Mo Salah;
🇫🇷 France’s Paul Pogba and Nabil Fekir are ever exciting prospects with the latter having his breakout season with domestic team Lyon.
🇸🇳 Senegal’s Sadio Mane will be looking to impress after a record-breaking season with his domestic club Liverpool F.C.
🇩🇪 A nailed on starter Germany’s Mesut Özil is always a standout player to keep an eye on.
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Sahlawi netted 16 goals during the qualification stages. Although they aren’t expected to make it far, it’ll be interesting to see how he performs on the big stage.
Where will it be held?
Russia is the nation that will host. With a Muslim population numbering over 9 million, a number of predominantly Muslim cities will host some of the games including Kazan and Samara.
The Russian Federation has also considered the over 100,000 Muslims who will be attending games by providing a “Travel Guide for Muslims” which includes halal restaurants, prayer times and places for prayer.
The host nation will kick off the tournament with the inaugural game against Saudi Arabia.
And those are all the essentials points you’ll need to know. I’ll leave you with these funny World Cup related posts I’ve come across on social media.