Al Khor, Queue — there was tainted vote vote, complicated date change, endless (and sad) Construction. the allegations About the alarming human rights abuses. Fear From LGBTQ fans. climate concerns At air-conditioned outdoor stadiums. last minute flip flops Beer sales. rant What should have been his greeting from the FIFA President.
Either way, it’s been a prelude like no game has ever seen before, a prelude that might as well be its own book. But this bizarre, at times Orwellian gathering in the Arabian desert is also the biggest football tournament on the planet. And so it was on Sunday night, that the games finally started.
The scene was just like everything else here, something familiar wrapped up in something new. Royals and other VIPs arrive to see the face of Qatar Ecuador With an honor guard of camels and horses lined the road. Men in white robes and women in black abayas entered through the crowd and filled the stands. Even after a lot of effort, liquor was not being sold at the site. Announcements began at the stadium, “Your Highness, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen…” and the Al Bayt Stadium felt modern on the inside, but most of its frame would be destroyed after the tournament was over. And will be recycled because it is not needed.
However, fans were still booing. He still chanted. They still danced and sang. Just before the start of play, giant flags and a giant replica of the World Cup trophy were still on the field surrounded by a ring of fire. Drummers still beat a thunderous beat for hours on the esplanade leading up to the gates, and players still shrug their shoulders in respect when Qatar’s national anthem is played.
The referee’s whistle blew. The players started running. A roar was heard around the bowl of the stadium as it marked the first time the World Cup had come to an Arab country.
“I am proud to be the first player to captain our national team in a World Cup,” said hassan al-haidos, Qatari forward who has now played 170 matches for his national team. “All my teammates are ready for this tournament.”
It is the largest forum Qatar has ever held. They are the second lowest ranked World Cup host according to FIFA, after South Africa (ranked 83rd in 2010). And the difference in talent showed as an Ecuadorian goal was disallowed by VAR for a very tight offside call after only three minutes and scored another on a penalty kick. Ener Valencia in their 2–0 win over the hosts after just 13 minutes.
Understandably, the players of the home team got a little flustered. The section of Qatari supporters behind the goal were undeterred, however, remaining at their throats throughout the first half, readying their players – no matter what the score – to push on.
One afternoon earlier this week, in the Doha market known as Souq Waqif, two men in traditional dress rode horses and rode cautiously between fans and stalls. It was grotesque, a scene of seeming authenticity that included – as is the case with horses – a moment where one of the animals relieved itself, its droppings falling in a heap onto the road.
Suddenly, a man in a gray shirt and blue pants appeared out of nowhere carrying a red plastic shovel. Within seconds of it hitting the ground, the dung flowed into its bucket and disappeared again, swiftly and effectively removing anything that could spoil the market’s pristine appearance before anyone noticed (or could step into it). that’s impressive. Unfortunately, this comprehensive approach has not been equally effective in eradicating the myriad other pitfalls related to the organization of this World Cup.
The list seems endless. Some issues, such as the cancellation of a tournament in the middle of the club season due to Qatar’s extreme summer temperatures, directly affect the players and, potentially, the game. Others are more about the fan experience: concerns about acceptance from the LGBTQ community, for example, or include fan villages. repurposed shipping containersOr a years-old promise to ease alcohol restrictions in this conservative Muslim nation that was suddenly reversed two days ago.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has consistently positioned his organization as staunchly opposed to the idea that there is anything potentially wrong with Qatar or its hosting of the event. His introductory news conference On Saturday, his suggestion that he knew what it was like to be gay in a country where homosexuality is illegal because he was bullied for his red hair and freckles as a child was more an attack than a greeting. Infantino’s main argument appears to be that Europe’s history of various atrocities has disqualified anyone from the West to recognize the injustices that may be taking place right now.
A day later, during the opening ceremony, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, struck a more friendly tone in his welcome speech, rhetoric organizers have offered over the years, but still a measure of discomfort.
How could it not be? Players, coaches and teams have already ignored FIFA’s pre-tournament letter urging them to focus solely on football and instead do what they can to highlight messages of inclusivity and positivity Huh. many countries including england, would make their captains wear armbands with the message “One Love” on it. The US team displays its Federation crest with rainbow imaging at its hotel and training center. DenmarkHummel, the uniform manufacturer, intentionally designed a “toned down” kit for this tournament without visible branding as a protest against the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers who are responsible for building much of the tournament’s infrastructure.
US coach Greg Berhalter said, “We believe that Qatar has made progress and made a lot of progress, but there is still some work to be done.” “I think it’s important to bring awareness to these issues while we’re on the world stage.”
Ecuador’s second goal on Sunday night came after half an hour, a header Valencia (who would have a first-hat trick save for VAR) who finished a clever cross first time ayrton preciado, Qatar goalkeeper saad al-sheeb Was seen angry after the first goal that was called back, disappointed after the penalty and the third time after the ball went out of the net.
It was not the start Qatar wanted, and certainly not the auspicious start they had dreamed of. No host has ever lost in the opening match of the World Cup, but even so, no host has ever had such a short footballing pedigree. By the middle of the second half, with Qatar barely threatening, many fans began to leave and the energy in the stadium sank deep.
May be they still make amazing performance like their home tournament South Korea did in 2002 or even Russia Did it four years ago? It is possible in the purest sense of the word. But even if they don’t do that, they will be able to create history. He has opened a sporting door, and expanded the reach of a grand tournament that has for too long remained rigidly confined to the places and people it knows.
This World Cup makes for a dizzying comparison, a confusing mix that feels at odds with what might justifiably be called progress.
Is it right to feel as it plays out over the next month? What is takeaway? There is no right answer, and Sunday’s opener served as a reminder that only one thing is certain: this World Cup will be unlike anything we’ve seen before.