The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be unlike any other major men’s FIFA tournament. Held in November and December due to the summer heat in the small Middle Eastern nation, the 2022 tournament will take place in the heart of the European league season, leading to challenges that clubs and national teams have not encountered in the past.
To help with the unusual timing of the tournament, FIFA will be making a number of accommodations. One of those is a slight increase in squad size for the 2022 edition, as FIFA will allow more players to be available to national team coaches on their roster.
- Final World Cup squad lists: 26 players (previously 23 players)
- Provisional/eligible World Cup squad lists: 55 players (previously 35 players in 2018)
- Bench players: 15 players (previously 12 players)
- Permitted substitutes: 5 per match (previously 3)
World Cup 2022 squad size
On June 23, FIFA announced an increase in the size of rosters for the 2022 World Cup, moving the allowable player cap from 23 players to 26 players for the upcoming tournament.
The world football governing body also approved an increase to 55 players for the full “release list” of eligible players. The expanded release list allows teams to make late changes to the squad, 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 players allowed on the bench, increased from the usual 12. FIFA stated that a total of 26 individuals will be allowed on a team’s bench, with the 15 players joined by a maximum of 11 team staff.
Why squad sizes were increased for World Cup 2022
FIFA said 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.”
Essentially, they increased the number of players allowed from 23 to 26 due to the strain on players through the 2022/23 season.
With the 2022 World Cup happening in November and December, domestic leagues have been forced to fit the same number of fixtures into a season calendar that is five weeks shorter, a tall task that will likely see players stretched to their limits.
FIFA had already approved
an increase from three substitutions to five for this 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 of them were permitted to be named for each individual match. But in the case of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, all 15 reserves will join the starting 11 players as part of the matchday squad.
When the World Cup returns to the regular June-July schedule for 2026 and beyond, it remains to be seen whether the roster size will revert to the previous 23-player limit.
When will players leave their clubs for World Cup 2022?
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will begin on Nov. 20, when the hosts play Ecuador in the opening game, with the final set to be played on Dec. 18.
According to the official FIFA release announcing the squad changes, the final day for players to feature for their clubs will be Sunday, Nov. 13. Those clubs must then release players summoned for international duty by Monday, Nov. 14, and they will see them return only after their respective national team has either been eliminated or has won the tournament.
Each league will navigate this time off differently, including how to rearrange the fixtures to accommodate the five-week layoff.
The Premier League season kicked off a week earlier than usual in August, and will resume on Dec. 26 following the end of the World Cup.
La Liga did not start a week early, but it will also return in late December and continue from that point forward, extending its campaign into June.
The Bundesliga in Germany started a week early, like the Premier League, but will not resume play until late January, giving its players the usual winter break.