The moment of truth for Qatar’s ability to stage the World Cup after years of failed openings and criticism over labor rights and strict laws has come.
Difficulties began to escalate as early as December 2010 when it was announced that Qatar would host the final amid a storm of international criticism. “For me it’s clear: Qatar is a mistake; a bad choice,” Sepp Blatter, the former president of world football’s governing body FIFA, said last week.
Always held during the closed season of the majority of leagues, it was difficult to maintain such a schedule with temperatures reaching over 45 degrees Celsius in the scorching Qatar summers. Two studies conducted by FIFA in 2014 and 2015 were enough to conclude that it would be impossible to hold the tournament in June-July, prompting to move it to November and December.
The construction of the new stadiums has been the scene of much labor rights controversy, with media reporting that thousands of foreign workers have lost their lives or been abused in the process. Qatar responded by changing its labor laws to contain the global dismay.
Additionally, Qatar’s strict Islamic laws against LGBT rights or alcohol consumption have come under a new firestorm of criticism. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, told the UN General Assembly last September that his government was ready to welcome everyone without discrimination.
Qatari Olympic high jump champion Mutaz Barshim, World Cup ambassador, said the tournament was an opportunity to unite people. “The World Cup will have a positive impact on our society by showcasing our culture to the world and helping people to build friendships and network. This is a golden opportunity to change negative perceptions about the region and to create new and meaningful connections,” he said in a statement. interview with the Qatar 2022 website on Wednesday.
Qatar will be the first team since Italy in the second World Cup in 1934 to enter the final for the first time as hosts without first qualifying for the tournament. In order to avoid a fate similar to that of Switzerland, Chile and South Africa, who all hosted but eliminated the group stage finals in 1954, 1962 and 2010, the Qatar team followed a thorough tournament preparation process.
It started with the appointment of Spain coach Felix Sanchez in 2017, whose knowledge of the region helped him guide Qatar to the 2019 Asian Cup title, winning every match in the process. Sanchez’s men raised eyebrows with a number of notable performances, including a 3-1 loss to Japan in the final.
The team continued their preparation by rubbing shoulders with the best in South America with participation in the 2019 Copa America. Nevertheless, the experience proved to be a bit too much for the team who finished bottom of their group after defeats against Colombia and Argentina and a draw against Paraguay.
Qatar, similarly and by special request, took part in the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year, where they improved by taking the lead in their group and beating El Salvador in the quarter-finals before lose 1-0 to the United States in the semi-finals. The team will be under pressure from the fans to achieve the desired results at home, especially after the decision of the Qatar Federation not to allow their players to play for their national clubs since the start of the current season in order to devote to the preparations for the match. finals. (Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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