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2022’s FIFA World Cup, the premier event in soccer and the most-viewed sporting event in the world, is now in full swing. We’re reaching the end of the group round and getting close to the beginning of the knockout stage, so here’s an update on everything. Read on below to learn how the World Cup works, where the U.S. and other teams stand, and everything else you need to know.
How does the World Cup work?
The World Cup is different from other popular sporting events, so its format may confuse those who haven’t watched it before. The World Cup tournament sees 32 teams from across the world competing over the course of a month. The tournament is separated into two stages: the group stage and the knockout stage.
In the group stage, teams are split into eight groups of four teams each. Each team will play all three other teams in their group, meaning each group plays a total of six matches. Teams score three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for a loss. The top two teams from each group move onto the knockout stage, which is a standard single-elimination bracket of 16 teams.
As of now, the leaders in each group are as follows: Netherlands leading Group A with 7 points, England leading Group B with 4 points, Poland leading Group C with 4 points, France leading Group D with 6 points, Spain leading Group E with 4 points, Croatia leading Group F with 4 points, Brazil leading Group G with 6 points, and Portugal leading Group H with 6 points.
As for the United States, they’re currently ranked third in Group B with 2 points. In order to move on to the knockout rounds, the U.S. will need to beat Iran, who is currently in second place with 3 points. A loss or a draw will mean that Iran keeps the lead and moves on to the finals.
The World Cup is the most-viewed sporting event in the world, largely due to the fact that it encompasses multiple games and takes place over more than a month. Estimates prior to the event predicted that viewership would number more than 5 billion over the course of the entire event.
The most-watched game of the tournament so far has been the Mexico vs. Argentina game, which broke records for the most-watched Spanish language game as well as the most-watched World Cup match in U.S. media history. Other notable games with high viewership include Brazil vs. Serbia and Portugal vs. Ghana.
The World Cup this year hasn’t been without its fair share of criticism and controversy, especially because of the decision to host the Cup in Qatar, which has a poor record of human rights violations. Qatar’s treatment of women, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people has been criticized recently.
One notable issue that’s come up surrounding this particular event is the plight of the migrant workers who built the eight stadiums across Qatar that tournament games have been played in. The Qatari government has admitted to dozens of deaths of workers laboring on the stadiums through harsh conditions, but human rights groups allege that it could be even more.