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Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Ignites Controversy and Celebration

Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Ignites Controversy and Celebration

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Official Countdown Clock Unveiled
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The 2022 FIFA World Cup took place in Qatar from November 20 through December 18. The Qatari-hosted event was the focus of attention for the entire world. There were controversies and tension, but, in the end, the event was a celebration of the global game. This article looks at both sides of the World Cup in Qatar: the miracle and the controversy.

Historical Background

Dating back to 1930, the FIFA World Cup is the eminent soccer tournament on the international stage, where soccer is also called football. Jules Rimet served as FIFA president from 1921 to 1954, and under his watch, FIFA launched an international competition for men’s football/soccer.

From the original field of 13 teams in 1930, the World Cup has dramatically grown in size and scope. By 2022, more than 200 teams had competed in a two-year qualifying process. The final World Cup competition takes place every four years with a final roster of 32 elite national teams that vie for the top title during a 30-day tournament.

Nomination of Qatar 

A FIFA selection committee chooses a nation to host the global competition. Qatar’s status as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup represents the first time the tournament has taken place in the Middle East. Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup on December 2, 2010. In doing so, Qatar vanquished competing bids from the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Australia to host the competition.

Allegations of Corruption and Employment Abuse

Once known as a poor nation, Qatar became wealthy when the world’s most extensive gas field was found in 1971. This gave Qatar’s leaders the confidence to see their country not as an extension of its wealthier neighbors but as a true geopolitical force. The World Cup bid was simply the next step: an opportunity to announce themselves and tell their story on a global stage. 

Rumors that corruption influenced FIFA’s decision to award the event to Qatar have circulated. Despite criticisms of Qatar’s World Cup bid for years, the country has always rejected them as jealousy or, worse still, racism.

Criticism of Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers is more factually based. The Qatari government also faced international criticism, particularly on human rights issues and the treatment of migrant workers.

Amnesty International released a report on November 18, 2013, detailing employment abuses in Qatar’s construction industry. The report concludes that migrant workers on multi-million-dollar projects are badly mistreated. The number of migrant workers who died building World Cup facilities remains unknown.

Changes for Migrant Workers 

  • On the 16th of January, 2020, Qatar said that most migrant workers would no longer need an exit permit or permission from their employer to leave the country. 
  • On August 30, 2020, Qatar promised to remove its controversial kafala system, which makes it hard for migrant workers to change jobs. The country also said that all workers would get a minimum wage of 1,000 riyals ($275) per month. 

Rainbow Flags and Tolerance

 On December 8, 2020, Qatar announced that it would comply with FIFA rules of promoting tolerance, and rainbow flags would be allowed in stadiums at the 2022 World Cup. 

However, in 2022, Qatar banned the rainbow flag from stadiums after assuring FIFA that rainbow flags would be permitted. This broken promise drew widespread condemnation, especially from the LGBTQ community.

The Tournament’s Distinguishing Features 

  • The first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East. 
  • An opportunity for the region to welcome and connect with billions of people worldwide, showcasing its distinct culture and forging new relationships. 
  • The tournament took place from November 21 to December 18, 2022, when the average temperature in Qatar is between 24-28 degrees Celsius. The tournament was moved to winter in Qatar early in the planning process to protect athletes and spectators from the summer heat. 
  • It enjoyed the most geographically compact footprint in the tournament’s history, dating back to the first single-stadium edition in 1930, with all stadiums located within 50 kilometers of Doha, Qatar’s capital city.  
  • This allowed spectators and players to spend less time traveling and more time enjoying the tournament and the centralization of some services and facilities. 
  • The competition featured 32 of the world’s best teams. 
  • For 29 days, 64 matches were  played. 
  • During the group stage, there were four matches per day. 
  • Over a million people were expected to visit Qatar during the FIFA World Cup. 
  • At the peak of the group stages, 200,000 fans attended matches each day.
  • The total budget for tournament infrastructure was USD 8 billion. 
  • During the peak construction period, over 30,000  workers worked on tournament sites.

 

Colorful illuminated Khalifa International Stadium in Doha at night, Qatar, Middle East against dark clear sky
Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar

Building Bridges 

Qatar has been flexible with its arrangements to host this event. Countries that did not have diplomatic relations were granted waivers and special arrangements for their fans. One of the most important was allowing Israelis to visit Qatar on special visas; this historic agreement allowed Israelis without foreign passports to visit Qatar for the World Cup. Before the event, Qatar declared that it would allow Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who require Israeli government approval, to travel to take direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha. Thousands of Israelis visited the tournament; true, they were advised to keep a low profile, but sometimes progress starts with baby steps.

Challenges for Infrastructure in Qatar 

The challenges faced by Qatar motivated the country’s leaders and encouraged them to think big. The challenges faced by the Qataris were as follow: 

  • Lack of international-level football grounds. At that time, there was only one football ground. 
  • Lack of a mass transportation system.
  • Lack of first-class hotels for prestigious soccer teams. 
  • Extraordinary hot weather conditions. 
  • Lack of street food and food chains to cater to visitors.  
  • Lack of skilled persons in many related technical fields. i.e., hoteling, tourism, etc. 
  • Many aspects of Qatar have received worldwide criticism. 
  • Criticism of Qatari rules and laws, particularly the prohibition of LBGTQ displays and celebrations. 

After winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 nomination, Qatar spent billions of dollars on different projects to build the infrastructure to meet the requirement of the upcoming event.  

New roads and infrastructure were built, such as the Al Khor Road Project, the Lusail Expressway, the Al Rayyan Road, the G-Ring Road, and the Southern Part of the Doha Expressway. 

A new airport and metro system were built to connect the new stadiums. Doha’s Metro is a rapid transit system with one of the fastest driverless trains in the world. With passenger increased capacity in mind, existing facilities were expanded, and new construction began at Hamad International Airport in Doha. 

Qatar World Cup 2022 stadiums were spread across five tournament-friendly cities. To make room for the expected 1.2 million visitors, new residences, hotels, and other places to stay were built.  These stadiums are regional leaders, highly decorated, sophisticated and state-of-the-art. 

Stadium Al Bayt 

Al Bayt cost more than $847 million to build over three years beginning in 2015. It opened in November 2022, with the first match of the tournament, and can accommodate 60,000 people. It has a retractable roof and cutting-edge cooling technology.

Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium  

It is a multipurpose stadium in Umm Al Afaei, west of the center of Doha, and is home to the famous Al Rayyan and Al-Kharitiyath. After the tournament, it is expected to be downsized to nearly 20,000 seats, with the ability to hold over 44,000 spectators using modular elements.

Al Janoub Stadium 

Al Janoub, located in the southern city of Al Wakrah, can accommodate 40,000 spectators. The arena, built from 2014 to 2019, boosted the country’s economy thanks to the many people who worked on it. In honor of the city’s history of fishing and diving for pearls, its shape is like that of a traditional dhow boat. Al Janoub Stadium is the setting for desert stories. 

Khalifa International Arena 

It is Qatar’s oldest arena, having been built in 1976. It was later renovated and expanded in 2005 to serve as the focal point of the Asian Games in 2006. With a 40,000 capacity, its most recognizable features are its magnificent dual arches, with an added canopy below them to ensure the cooling system maintains a comfortable temperature. 

Education City Stadium 

Education City arena is located in Al Rayyan and hosts 40,000 spectators. Because its enclosed outer shell resembles a diamond, it is the first Qatar World Cup 2022 arena to receive a five-star design and build rating from the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). During the day, it is highly reflective, and at night, it is illuminated by thousands of diodes. 

Lusail Stadium 

 

The Lusail multipurpose arena, located in Lusail, is Qatar’s largest arena, covering 140,000 square meters and seating 80,000 people. It is the primary facility. It is designed to resemble a giant bowl with a limited footprint growing upwards. As part of Qatar’s commitment to sustainable development, the arena will be transformed into a community center following the competition.

Stadium 974 

It was completed on November 30, 2021, and is made of 974 recycled shipping containers, which reduced construction costs and duration. It can seat 40,000 spectators. In the aftermath of the World Cup, the stadium was dismantled, with plans to send the components to countries that need infrastructure. 

Al Thumama Stadium  

It is a 40,000-person arena in Al Thumama, Qatar. The dynamic and imaginative shape of the arena, named after a locally found tree, features a distinctive circular form and was inspired by the gahfiya, a traditional wooden head cap worn by men throughout the Middle East.

Also, in the aftermath of the World Cup, the stadium was dismantled, with plans to send the components to countries that need infrastructure. 

Luxury Tourism

Qatar built more than 11 new luxury hotels for visitors in advance of this major event. The St Regis Marsa Arabia Island, The Pearl Qatar, Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha, Bin Al Sheikh Residences by Rotana, and The Chedi Katara Hotel & Resort, are a few examples of newly constructed hotels. The Miracle of Qatar can be seen in the skyscrapers. 

Luxury 5 Star Hotel in Doha, Qatar, Middle East
Doha, Qatar

 

Important Happenings 

From the beginning of the event, there were many wonderful incidents. A glittering opening ceremony inside the Bedouin-tent-inspired Al Bayt Stadium welcomed the world to Qatar. Dreamers was performed by South Korean star Jungkook of BTS and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi, and Ghanim Al Muftah and Dana Al Meer also took part in the unforgettable show.  Morgan Freeman, an Oscar winner, sat on the field next to Qatari Qari Ghanim, who was born with a rare condition that prevents the development of the lower spine. 

Ecuador became the first team in the tournament’s 92-year history to defeat the host nation in the opening match. Arab fans got a massive boost when Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina, defeating them by two goals to one in a group match.

France and Argentine provided one of the most exciting finals ever, with Argentina eventually claiming victory on penalties after a 3 – 3 thriller.

Cultural Exchange 

The opening ceremony theme was a gathering for all people, bridging differences through kindness, respect, and acceptance. Football, aka soccer, unites the world as one tribe, and the earth serves as the tent in which all live. This human interaction, both among fans and players is irreplaceable. In this way, the mega event played a vital role in cultural exchange while maintaining its humanity.

Qatar set out to do the impossible and was rewarded with an unforgettable World Cup. The vision and hard work that went into the event provided a wonderful opportunity for people to come together and share in each other’s cultures. Happiness is shared among people by sharing their experiences. And the tournament gave the entire world many exciting experiences to share.

 

Edited by Sharon Rosenberg

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