With the spotlight being turned on Qatar’s poor human rights record, mistreatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws, the World Cup kicking off on Monday 21 November has become the most controversial in recent years seeing many celebrities and athletes pull out.

The Cup begins with Qatar facing Ecuador at 3am AEDT on the 21st, while the Socceroos face defending champions France on Wednesday 23 November at 6am AEDT.

This year is the last to feature 32 teams before the competition expands to 48 in Canada, Mexico and the US in 2026. Teams are divided into eight groups of four, with winners and runners-up from each to advance to the last 16. The knockout stage begins in the early hours of 4 December, the quarter-finals on 10 December and the semis on 14 December.

The final is scheduled to be played at 2am AEDT on Monday 19 December – which is also Qatar’s National Day.

In total, 64 matches will be played over the course of the next month available live in a free-to-air exclusive broadcast on SBS. Eight of those live games will also be shown on SBS Viceland.

Every ball at this World Cup will be kicked within a 55km radius in Doha, the capital of Qatar, making it the most geographically compact tournament in World Cup history.

Eight stadiums will host the matches, ranging from the smallest – Stadium 974, Al Janoub Stadium and Al Thumama Stadium, which hold 40,000 – to the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which will host the final.

Socceroos Group D fixtures:

France v Australia – Wednesday 23 November, 6am AEDT

Tunisia v Australia – Saturday 26 November, 9pm AEDT

Australia v Denmark – Thursday 1 December, 2am AEDT