By VoN Sports Team
The FIFA World Cup 2022 starts in Qatar on November 21, with the final set to be played on December 18. This will be the first time the World Cup will be held in a West Asian country and the stakes are pretty high.
The World Cup will be contested by 32 nations and for this edition; FIFA has made some important changes in the composition of squads. These include the number of players that can be registered etc.
It has to be remembered that while the tournament will be held in November and December due to the summer heat in Qatar, this year’s tournament will take place in the heart of the European league season. That has placed major, new challenges before clubs and national teams.
To handle this the unusual timing of the tournament FIFA has made a number of accommodations. One of those was a slight increase in roster size for the 2022 edition, as FIFA will allow more players to be available to national team coaches.
The following are the basic changes:
Squad lists: 26 players (from 23 players)
Eligible lists: 55 players (from 35 players in 2018)
Bench players: 15 players (from 12 players)
Available substitutes: 5 per match (from 3)
The last one is a major change in the very rules of the sport.
These increases were announced by FIFA on June 23.
The football governing body also approved an increase to 55 players for the full “release list” of eligible players. The release list allows teams to make late changes to the roster, as well as to swap injured players out for the knockout stage.
Finally, the number of personnel on the bench is increasing as well, with a total of 15 available substitutes allowed on the bench, increased from the usual 12. FIFA stated that a total of 26 people will be allowed on a team’s bench, with the 15 players joined by a maximum of 11 team staff.
FIFA stated that the changes were made “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.”
This suggests that should the World Cup return to the normal June and July schedule for 2026 and beyond, the roster size would revert to the traditional 23-man squad list for future tournaments.
Why squad sizes were increased for World Cup 2022
FIFA increased the number of players allowed on a World Cup roster from 23 players to 26 players due to the strain on players through the coming 2022/23 season.
Due to the 2022 World Cup happening in November and December, domestic leagues are forced to fit the same number of fixtures into a season calendar that is four weeks shorter, a tall task that will see players stretched to their limits.
Fixture congestion will be a significant problem through the coming season, especially for clubs that find themselves deep into multiple domestic and continental competitions. The workload increases the chance for injury during the coming club season, and both national teams and clubs will need greater flexibility to navigate the challenges.
FIFA had already approved an increase from three substitutions to five for the coming World Cup, a move which follows its adoption by a number of top European leagues.
Additionally, the World Cup squad increase follows a similar change previously made for the 2021 European Championships, where 26 players were allowed on the roster, but only 23 were permitted to be named for each individual match, requiring three game day scratches. But in the case of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, all 15 reserves will be part of the match day squad.
According to the official FIFA release announcing the roster changes, the final day for players to play a club fixture will be Sunday, November 13. Clubs must then release players for international duty by Monday, November 14, returning to their clubs only after their national team has either been eliminated or won the tournament.
Each league will navigate this time off differently, including how to rearrange the fixtures to accommodate the one-month layoff.
The Premier League will start a week earlier than usual in August, and will resume on Dec. 26 following the end of the World Cup.
La Liga is not starting a week early, but it will also return in late December and continue from that point forward.
The Bundesliga in Germany will start a week early, like the Premier League, but will not resume play until late January, giving its players the usual winter break.