With less than two weeks to go until the FIFA World Cup kicks off, Canada’s men’s team is putting the finishing touches on preparations for a tournament that has been 36 years in the making.
The team has only qualified once before, in 1986, which means that a whole new generation of fans is preparing to cheer on the national team as they enter the world’s biggest soccer tournament.
To help Canadians understand the path to title victory and who could ultimately prevail, CBC News has put together a fan’s guide to the train, with everything you need to know about the beautiful game and Canada’s chances.
Do you have any questions about the World Cup? Send it to us at email@example.com
Soccer rookie, here! What basic concepts should I know?
The World Cup is held every four years. Canada is one of 32 teams after qualifying for their continental federation’s tournament.
Qatar is hosting this year’s tournament (it’s controversial, more on that later) and will play the opening game against Ecuador on November 20.
The World Cup final is scheduled for December 18 with the winner taking home the FIFA World Cup trophy.
In case you were wondering, there is also a Women’s World Cup, taking place in Australia and New Zealand this coming July, with Canada playing.
How does the competition work?
First, group stage: The teams are divided into eight groups of four and each team will play in their own group once. There will be four matches each day over a 12-day period.
At this stage, a win is worth three points, a draw is worth one, and a loss earns zero points. The two best teams in each group, that is, the teams with the most “points”, will advance to the knockout round.
the knockout round: The remaining 16 teams will play against different groups (for example, the best team in group A will play the second best team in group B). Each losing team is eliminated from the tournament until the semifinals, when four teams remain. Two will advance to the final, while the remaining two will play for third place.
Who is Canada playing against?
Canada is in group F, so they will play Belgium (November 23), Croatia (November 27) and Morocco (December 1) in the group stage.
For the uninitiated in football, these are three tough matchups: Belgium currently sit second in the FIFA men’s rankings, Croatia lost the 2018 World Cup final to France and Morocco were unbeaten in their qualifying race for the World Cup.
So we’re not going to win the World Cup?
Experts say probably not, but don’t let that get you down.
Remember: this is Canada’s second World Cup. In 1986, the team lost all three games without scoring.
“The benchmark of success, in a way, is a goal… If they get a win, that would be huge,” said soccer writer Chris Jones, who will be in Qatar covering the World Cup for CBC Sports.
“If Canada leaves the group [stage]That’s amazing, like, that’s our version of winning the World Cup.”
Who is likely to win, then?
Bookmakers are favoring Brazil to win the tournament, followed by Argentina, who haven’t lifted the Cup since 1986.
France, the 2018 champions, are third favourites, followed by England, whose fans are praying for their first World Cup title since 1966.
Tell me more about the Canadian team. Who should I name?
star midfielder alfonso davies He is one of the best young soccer players in the world. Fans were concerned after the 22-year-old suffered a hamstring strain while playing for Bayern Munich over the weekend, but the German club told CBC News that Davies’ participation in the World Cup “is not at risk”.
A child born in a refugee camp was not supposed to make it! But here we are GOING TO THE WORLD. Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are unrealistic. KEEP DREAMING, KEEP ACCOMPLISHING! pic.twitter.com/GT4hjz4ebO
Tajon BuchananThe 23-year-old is also a rising international star who plays for Belgian First Division A club Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League. “This is a very exciting player. This is a guy that opposing defenders absolutely hate to deal with because he’s so fast,” said football journalist John Molinaro, a CBC contributor and founder of TFC Republic.
Captain Atiba Hutchinson He is overcoming a long injury to play his first World Cup. At 39, he will also be the last. “From an emotional perspective, it will be fun to watch [play]said Andi Petrillo, anchor of CBC Sports’ Soccer North.
Also keep an eye out for the defensive midfielder Stephen Eustace and forward jonathan david both head to Qatar after outstanding seasons in Europe. “If you had to place a bet on which Canadian man was going to score the first goal in World Cup history, I think Jonathan David is a very good bet,” Jones said.
You mentioned that there is controversy surrounding this World Cup. Tell me more?
There are several, including the heat, Qatar’s human rights record, Iran’s involvement and, as has become the norm for the World Cup, allegations of corruption involving FIFA.
First, the heat: Expect to see players sweat in 30+ C temperatures. The tournament was moved from June-July to November to keep it a bit cooler. But that change also means that many players are coming straight from the European and North American soccer seasons, with no break to acclimatize to the heat.
“They’re probably going to be a bit more sloppy and slower, if you will, on their game than if they were in a perfect thermal situation,” said Professor Stephen Cheung, an environmental stress expert in human physiology at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont.
That heat has also proved deadly for potentially thousands of migrant workers in Qatar, a number the Qatari government disputes, which brings us to another controversy: Qatar human rights record.
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in the host country, and LGBTQ+ people face arbitrary arrest and abuse by security forces, according to Human Rights Watch.
then there is Iran’s involvement: In recent days, Ukraine and international activists have called on FIFA to ban Iran from participating due to its role in supplying Russia with weapons, as well as its crackdown on activists.
FIFA has responded by telling teams to “focus on football”, rather than human rights issues, as the football organization continues to be persecuted by corruption allegations.
The US Department of Justice alleges that FIFA officials accepted bribes in exchange for granting Qatar hosting rights in 2010. It’s just one of many accusations against FIFA and its leadership in recent years.
Oh! IT’S OKAY. Anything else to watch out for?
Two big names in soccer are (probably) playing their last World Cup: Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Neither has ever won the World Cup, so lifting the trophy during their final tournament would be a great deal for either captain and their country’s fans.
Any tips for my World Cup viewing schedule?
You can check the schedule so far here. Unfortunately for Canadian fans, World Cup kickoff times are between 5am and 2pm.
Finally, am I supposed to say football or soccer?
Although Canada, the US, and Australia call the game “soccer,” the World Cup is officially a “soccer” competition, and FIFA is short for Fédération Internationale de Football Association. You can keep calling it football if you want, just be prepared to be corrected by fans of other teams.
Watch CBC Sports’ new show Soccer North, airing weekly on CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports YouTube channel. Hosted by Andi Petrillo, Soccer North brings Canadians closer to the most exciting soccer headlines happening on and off the field. Soccer North will be LIVE following all Canada games in Qatar.