Illinois sportsbooks are getting ready for one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup to determine global soccer supremacy kicks off Sunday (Nov. 20) in Qatar. The tournament — which is held every four years — will run for a month. And the championship game will be held De. 18.
This is the first time the tournament has been held in the Middle East.
Where in the world is Qatar?
Qatar is a tiny nation located in the Middle East. It is a peninsula in the Persian Gulf situated east of Saudi Arabia, northwest of the United Arab Emirates, southeast of Kuwait and west of Iran, which is on the other side of the Gulf.
At 4,468-square miles, Qatar (pronounced kuh·taar) is smaller than the state of Connecticut (5,543 mi²).
Usually held in the summer, this year’s tournament is being played in the fall because the average summer temperature in Qatar is 99°. In July, the average temperature is 106°.
The tournament will be played at eight different locations in and around Doha, the main city in Qatar:
- Al Bayt Stadium
- Ahmad Bin Stadium
- Al Janoub Stadium
- Al Thumama Stadium
- Education City Stadium
- Khalifa International Stadium
- Stadium 974
- Lusail Stadium (where the final will be played).
How the FIFA World Cup tournament works
The 32-team tournament is split into eight different four-team groups. Those groups are lettered A through H.
Each group plays a round-robin tournament. Three points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. The top two teams advance to the 16-team knockout stage.
The knockout stage is a single-elimination tournament. In this round, extra time and penalty shootouts are used to determine the winner, if necessary.
This round is followed by the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, a third-place match and the final.
Illinois’ connection to the World Cup
There are no players from Illinois in this year’s World Cup. Though, two players are natives of St. Louis, which is just across the Mississippi River from the Illinois border.
St. Louis-area natives Josh Sargent and Tim Ream are both on the United States roster.
Sargent is a 22-year-old forward that plays for the Norwich City club in England. He is originally from O’Fallon, MO, which is just west of St. Louis. In 2017, he was named the US Soccer Young Male Player of the Year. He has made 21 appearances for Team USA.
Ream is a 35-year-old defender from St. Louis. He is the club captain at English Premier League side Fulham, where he has appeared in more than 250 games. He has made 46 appearances for Team USA.
10 best places in Chicago to watch the games
1934 W. Irving Park Rd.
Acclaimed as one of the best sports bars in Chicago — if not the best — The Globe Pub is a fantastic choice to watch any World Cup game. They’ve even designed a special World Cup menu. Named the “Best Sports Bar in America by Nightclub & Bar Magazine” in 2014, The Globe Pub features plenty of huge HD screens and excellent pub grub, such as shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash.
100 W. Grand Ave
Fado’s Irish Pub bills itself as the 2022 World Cup headquarters featuring every game in the tournament and “a match day brunch menu and drink specials.” Of course, Irish food and drinks — hello, Guinness — is the specialty here.
1935 W. Chicago Ave.
An official Chicago Fire soccer bar, Cleo’s will be showing each and every 2022 World Cup game. And the food — featuring a ton of pizza and sandwich options — is pretty great.
Fire Pitch: 3626 N. Talman Ave
Aon Grand Ballroom: 840 E Grand Ave
Speaking of the Chicago Fire, its indoor/outdoor community soccer facility, the Fire Pitch, will be the club’s official home for 2022 World Cup watch parties. Soccer fans can enjoy “specialty food, drinks, exclusive merchandise, interactive games” and more throughout the tournament. The Pitch will open at 10 a.m. CT on Nov. 20 for the tournament’s opening match between Qatar and Equador which starts at 11 a.m. For the remainder of the tournament, the Pitch will open 30 minutes before kick-off of the first game each day (aside from the 4 a.m. CT matches) and remain open until the end of the last match of the day. The Pitch will be closed on Thursday, November 24 for Thanksgiving.
In addition to watch parties at the Fire Pitch, the Chicago Fire will also host a simultaneous watch party on Nov. 25 at Navy Pier in the Aon Grand Ballroom when the United States takes on England at 1 p.m. CT. Admission will be free and on a first come, first serve basis, with doors opening at 11 a.m. CT.
3626 N. Talman Ave
Located onsite at the Fire Pitch, the Heineken Pub97 will offer a custom brunch and lunch menu, as well as World Cup 2022 themed beer specials, inspired by countries participating in the tournament. The limited time World Cup menu includes Swiss Quiche Lorraine, Polish potato pierogis, Mexican tacos and much more, plus special international beer from Belgium, England, Poland and Germany.
9 W. Hubbard St.
Looking for a little more upscale sports bar experience? Theory is a great choice. Beyond great food, Theory has a plethora of TV screens and 25 people will have the chance to upgrade to VIP status and watch the games on 133-inch flat screens.
3801 N. Ashland
For 30 years, AJ Hudson’s Public House has been a go-to spot for Northsiders to watch international soccer matches. And the bar features more than 100 beers.
Graystone: 3441 N Sheffield Ave.
Rambler: 4128 N Lincoln Ave.
The Graystone Tavern in Wrigleyville and its sister pub The Rambler Kitchen + Tap in North Center are teaming up for World Cup viewing parties. The bars will offer a themed “around the world” menu. The Rambler is a Team USA-affiliated bar that will be broadcasting all of the US team’s games.
How to watch / stream the games
You can watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the FOX Sports network — Fox and FS1. FOX is the tournament’s official English-language broadcast partner in the US.
Spanish broadcasts of the games will be on Telemundo and Peacock.
You can also stream replays of full World Cup games for free on Tubi.
The first game of the 2022 World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador will kick off at 10 a.m. CT on Sunday, Nov. 20. That game will air in the US on FS1 and in Spanish on Peacock.
Best places in Illinois to bet on the games
FIFA estimates that $155 billion was bet, globally, on the 2018 World Cup. Given the proliferation of sportsbooks in Illinois and around the world since then, that mark likely will be surpassed in the 2022 tournament.
Currently, there are seven legal, regulated Illinois sportsbooks:
All will be taking a wide variety of bets on the World Cup.
There is also a possibility the Circa Sportsbook will be up and running before the tournament ends. Circa is expected to launch when Full House’s The Temporary by American Place Casino opens in Waukegan possibly as soon as early-December.
Plus, more IL sportsbooks are expected to be coming soon to the state. Though, none will be open before the 2022 World Cup ends.
Brazil currently favored to win the World Cup, USA ranks 17th
In team futures, DraftKings currently has Brazil — the #1 ranked squad in the world — as the favorite to win the World Cup at +400.
Brazil holds the record for the most World Cups (five) but Germany and Italy are right behind them (four apiece). Though, it’s been 20 years since Brazil last won the World Cup.
The favorites in futures betting on which team will be the World Cup champion break down as follows:
- Brazil +400
- Argentina +500
- France +700
- Spain +850
- England +850
- Germany +1000
- Netherlands +1200
- Portugal +1400
- Belgium +1600
- Denmark +2500
DraftKings currently has the United States ranked 17th at odds of +13000
Player props futures
DK currently also has the following player prop futures:
Golden Boot (top goal scorer): Harry Kane (+700), Kylian Mbappe (+800), Neymar (+1000), Lionel Messi (+1000) and Karim Benzema (+1200).
Best Player (Golden Ball) winner: Messi (+550), Neymar (+900), Mbappe (+1100), Benzema (+1600) Vinicius Junior (+1600).
Golden Glove (best goalkeeper) winner: Alisson (+350), Thibaut Courtois (+500), Emiliano Martinez (+700), Unai Simon (+800), Jordan Pickford (+900).
When is the USA playing?
The US Men’s National Team (USMNT) is in Group B along with England, Iran and Wales.
The US team’s debut match is versus Wales on Monday, Nov. 21, at 1 p.m. CT in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. The game can be seen on Fox and in Spanish on Telemundo and Peacock.
The US is also scheduled to play:
- vs. England on Friday, Nov. 25 from Al Bayt Stadium at 1 p.m. CT
- vs. Iran on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from Al Thumama Stadium at 1 p.m. CT
For the USMNT’s three group games, DK currently has the odds as:
- vs. Wales — US +165, Wales +195, Draw +195
- vs. England — US +500, England -165, Draw +275
- vs. Iran — US +100, Iran +280, Draw +230
US history in the World Cup
This is the 11th time the United States team has qualified for the World Cup and the eighth time in the last nine tournaments.
The team’s best showing was in the inaugural tournament in 1930 when it reached the semi-finals and finished third.
Though the US did not qualify for 2018 World Cup, in the tournaments that proceeded that one, they finished:
- 15th in 2014
- 12th in 2010
- 25th in 2006
- 8th in 2002
- 32nd in 1998
- 14th in 1994
- 23rd in 1990
Complete 2022 World Cup field
The complete World Cup field is as follows:
- Saudi Arabia
- Costa Rica
- Korea Republic
Past World Cup champions
1990: West Germany
1974: West Germany
1954: West Germany
US, Canada and Mexico playing hosts to World Cup 2026
In 2026, when the World Cup will be held jointly in the United States, Canada and Mexico, 46 teams will compete for the first time.
Though games will be played in 11 US cities, Chicago is not one of them.
Despite playing host to games in the 1994 World Cup, the Windy City opted out for 2026 for a couple of reasons:
- Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to give FIFA a “blank check” to underwrite costs for the event.
- Soldier Field can hold 61,000 spectators, which may be too small to play host to a World Cup game.