Qatar money bought World Cup, but not Loyalty vs Ecuador

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DOHA, Qatar – until referee Daniele Orsato blew the final whistle on Sunday QueueAfter a 2-0 defeat in the first match of the 2022 World Cup, the entire visual palette of Al-Bait Stadium was changed.

What was once a large patch of Ecuadorian yellow, a swath of burgundy from the ultras section supporting Qatar, and a predominance of clear black (for women) and white (for men) in traditional dress was transformed. The yellow was still there and the burgundy had diluted but there were now huge patches of pale red – the color of the empty seats at Al-Bait.

It is unlikely that more than one-third of the announced 67,372 attendance was left and, in fact, you could see home supporters filing in as quickly as possible at the end of the first half, which saw Qatar go two goals down.

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This is my seventh World Cup, and only once before have I seen so many home fans leave the stadium early. He was in Belo Horizonte eight years ago when Brazil taken on Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup and famously trailed 5–0 at halftime. but that was minirazzo (rough translation: “the agony of Mineirao,” the stadium where the game was played) – it was a final day of shame for the Seleção, an inexorable journey into football’s twilight zone as Brazil lost 7–1,

This walkout in Doha was different. It was Qatar’s first World Cup game. And, when they weren’t playing well, they fell behind by two goals Ecuador, not some powerhouse, which offered hope for the second half. And, of course, even though they were well on their way to becoming the first host nation in World Cup history to lose the opening game (though they may not have known it at the time), Qatar still had – and – two. and against Senegal And netherlands,

Qatar’s trip to the World Cup was one-off, meticulous, expensive and, let’s face it, Machiavellian. They won the bid in 2010 under questionable circumstances, they built a world class training center (the Aspire Academy) and filled it with the best youth coaches that money could buy as well as talented kids from around the world (which is a day, can be naturalized through residency).

They spent over $220 billion on this World Cup – more than double the amount spent on the last eight World Cups combined. He built stadiums and hotels and built a new airport. He controlled a domestic professional league with superstar coaches and players ranging from Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez Colombia Star james rodriguez,

And yet, on this night, Qatar fell behind in a territory they did not control.

No, I am not talking about the performance on the pitch. The Ecuadorians were vastly better, but that was no surprise. Apart from guest appearances in the Gold Cup, this Qatari team hasn’t played in any official competition since winning the Asian Cup in 2019 (unless you count the Arab Cup, and you probably shouldn’t). soccer. Ecuador, in addition to having the better players, came through a battle-hardened battle of attrition, otherwise known as CONMEBOL qualification.

I’m talking about domestic supporters instead. People you know will be genuinely caring and passionate about supporting their team – the team had invested so much in their country. In the first bump in the road, however, many – not all, by any stretch, but a significant amount – were gone.

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cultural differences? Not a real fan? Thoughtless Qataris who were participating out of curiosity rather than genuine passion for their team? It’s hard to tell. And, to be clear, many people stayed until the very end. But those empty seats will, frankly, feel like a kick in the (crown) family jewels.

Why go through all this – all the effort it took to get the World Cup – if not for national pride? Why have your fans left right before the end of the game?

This jibes with the message that Qatar has often given us, which is that Qatar is a football-loving nation full of fans with a passion for the game. That’s what they claimed in their bid to host the World Cup in 2010, and we’ve heard it ever since.

It’s also a reminder that, yes, it is a small country with a native population of 150,000, including the elderly and children. And it’s probably already a feat to bring a fifth of that population to a stadium like Al-Bait. To expect that they will even stoop to defeat may be too much to ask. And it’s a little disappointing.

Money and a wealthy determination to host and compete in the World Cup can buy you a lot. What it can’t buy you is 90 minutes of committed support for your national team from your population. Not when that population is themselves wealthy and privileged — Qatar’s GDP per capita is among the highest in the world, and if they don’t like what they see, they’ll vote with their feet. And no one can stop them.



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