The last two spots in football’s 2022 World Cup finals will be decided this week when the intercontinental play-offs are held in Doha, Qatar.
The tournament, which begins in November, will be the first World Cup to take place in the Middle East and the first at this time of year.
However, the decision to hold it in Qatar has attracted controversy.
When is the 2022 World Cup and how hot will it be?
The World Cup finals are being held between 21 November and 18 December – a time when the temperature in Qatar usually reaches 25C (77F).
Had the finals been held in June and July, as they normally are, the matches would have been played in temperatures exceeding 40C and possibly reaching 50C.
Qatar initially proposed to hold the finals during the summer in air-conditioned enclosed stadiums, but the plan was rejected.
What are the problems in holding a World Cup in the winter?
November and December are busy months for European football clubs and many players will be called up to play for their countries at Qatar 2022.
Consequently, European leagues like England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga are suspending their seasons a week ahead of the international tournament. They will restart them after it has ended.
Why was Qatar chosen as the World Cup host?
In 2010, Qatar clinched the rights to the World Cup by winning a ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members. It defeated bids from USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia .
It is the first Arab nation to host the tournament.
Qatar was accused of paying Fifa officials £3m ($3.7m) in bribes to secure their backing but was cleared after a two-year investigation.
Fifa’s then-chairman, Sepp Blatter, supported Qatar’s bid at the time, but has since said Fifa may have made the wrong decision.
Mr Blatter is currently on trial in Switzerland for fraud, embezzlement and other corruption charges.
Qatar has also faced allegations from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of poorly treating foreign workers who have been building World Cup facilities.
Which teams are playing at the World Cup and who are the favourites?
Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup began three years ago.
Teams from different continents played in groups, and the top teams advanced through to the finals, with others qualifying through play-offs.
France, the winners of the 2018 World Cup, made it through but current European champions Italy failed to qualify.
For the finals, the 32 teams were drawn into eight groups of four. Teams from the same continent were kept apart – except for European countries, where a maximum of two could be in any one group.
Brazil, England, France and Spain are the current bookmakers’ favourites to win the tournament.
What can World Cup fans expect in Qatar?
Qatar, which has a population of 2.9 million, is one of the world’s wealthiest countries because of its oil and gas exports.
It has built seven stadiums specifically for the tournament, and an entire new city in which to stage the final match.
More than 100 new hotels, a new metro and new roads are also being built.
The tournament’s organising committee estimates that 1.5 million people will attend the finals.
Qatar is a conservative Muslim country, and fans have been warned to be careful about how they behave,
There are severe restrictions on drinking alcohol. It can normally be bought only in bars in luxury hotels. A pint of beer costs up to £10 ($13).
However, the organisers say alcohol may be sold in designated fan zones during the tournament.
What is Qatar’s record on gay rights?
Homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar.
Groups representing gay football fans have been asking its government to “guarantee their safety”, while some Wales fans have said they will boycott the tournament following their team’s qualification.
The World Cup’s organisers have replied that “everyone is welcome”, but that Qatar will not relax its laws on homosexuality.