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Qatar’s Cup Runneth Over

  • December 19, 2022
  • 7 min read
Qatar’s Cup Runneth Over

World Cup 2022, Qatar: The event that changed FIFA and the face of football all over the world.

The 2022 Football World Cup came to an end with a brilliant display of fireworks in and outside the Lusail stadium in Qatar. Nearly 89000 fans in that magnificent stadium and millions across the globe watched the nail-biting finals between Les blues and Argentina. In the end, the Messiah won!

As Qatar celebrated its National Day, the world celebrated the culmination of the greatest unscripted show on the earth. And as experts started sharing their first-ever world cup experience in the Arab territory, it was clear nobody was left complaining. The stadia, the hotels, the facilities and the experience received high praise equally from players, fans, and officials. Veteran world cup aficionados went a step ahead and said this was not just the best world cup but the one hard to beat in terms of organisation in the future too. Just like the whole tournament, the final match too was a special one for the fans. Two goals each in the regulation time, one each in the extra time, including a first world cup finals hat-trick from Mbappe and then the penalty shootout – all of which added up to make it a top-class football match. Truly, Qatar has delivered a player friendly, fan-centric and the best FIFA World Cup.

The weird theories about the societal restrictions on people, especially women, turned out to be false. The Arabs were found to be friendly and helpful, the expatriate workers were happy and proud to be a part of the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. Visitors, especially from the West, were surprised to see a Qatar, totally different from what was painted by naysayers during the last one decade since the country was chosen as the host. This turned out to be the safest FIFA World Cup tournament for the fans who arrived from almost every nook and corner of the world. In fact, a British official in charge of visiting English fans said that this was the first World Cup event where not even a single Briton was arrested!

When we start taking stock of the first World Cup in West Asia, the point most have missed, perhaps the most important one, is the positive impact of the event on the affairs of world football body, the FIFA. The organization which knowingly or unknowingly was pulled into too many scandals and legal fights actually did a great deal of good to itself by sticking steadfastly to its choice of Qatar, the richest, but one of the smallest countries in the world.

Since 2010, when Qatar was announced as the host, FIFA had to bring in too many checks and balances into its proceedings. The processes that had been usually taken for granted as the tradition for decades were given a moral check and new procedures put in place. After the selection of Qatar, when the charge of lack of transparency of the selection process called into question the basic foundation of FIFA, they moved mountains to ensure that the legality of all future events will be 100% foolproof. No such change in process has happened on such a large scale in FIFA since its inception. This definitely increased the respectability of the organization and the transparency of its appointments and the future selection process of hosts.


The Weather Factor

Despite the fact that Qatar was chosen as per the rules of FIFA, when it came to the actual organisation of its most important event, the Qataris were slowly able to put their environmental and socio-cultural views across the board to FIFA. Looking at the weather conditions in the region, FIFA understood early that just temperature-controlled stadia alone wouldn’t guarantee the smooth conduct of the tournament. They realised that In a country where temperatures touch 45-50 degrees C in summer, half the fans from outside Asia wouldn’t even reach the stadia in good shape. FIFA fought it out with the club football syndicate and regional football associations and shifted the event dates to the winter. Though this disrupted the entire schedule of European club football, FIFA put its foot down and got it done. Next to awarding the event to Qatar, this was the best thing to have happened to the first World Cup in the region. But by doing so FIFA sent the message out that it is willing to accommodate regions, which are traditionally outside the football atlas.

The accusations about mistreatment of expatriate workforce building the World Cup infrastructure in Qatar had FIFA acting fast along with organisations like the International Labour Organisation. With all of them getting into the act, regular checks on the workers’ conditions were made mandatory like never before, which FIFA said will be a regular procedure henceforth. Once it was included as a mandatory procedure with processes included, no country in future could say no and the workers, the most important team in making every World Cup happen, stood to win. Qatar, generally accused of providing bad working conditions for the people working for the success of the World Cup, thus became a major player in reshaping one more policy of FIFA.

The football bosses at the Zurich headquarters of FIFA always considered themselves as equal in stature to Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries and had the power to sanction the regional football organisations irrespective of what the respective governments or the even judiciaries think. We saw that recently in the case of All India Football Federation which was suspended, and even the Supreme Court couldn’t do much about it. But in the case of Qatar, by selecting it as the host for 2022 earlier than the usual period, FIFA gave a lot of time to organise the affairs. Being smart operators, Arabs utilized this time to not just to prepare for the event, but also win over these hard nosed FIFA executives with their constant interactions at the highest level. The FIFA team, worried about such a small country meeting all the standard requirements of organising such a large event, made Qatar their home early. The Qataris taught them to enjoy the Arab culture and participate in their celebrations. FIFA bosses, over a period of time, started to enjoy the West Asian hospitality and welcomed the idea of incorporating the Arab values and traditions in the conduct of the tournament. And with that went out the availability of alcohol inside the stadia. This in turn made the participation of family and children in the event more comfortable. Thus this World Cup made FIFA relax its stubborn rules so as to make it inclusive. 

Unlike many who worried, FIFA also found the World Cup can be taken to an uncharted location successfully and promote the game. This has brought in new thoughts within FIFA about allotting the future events to less travelled locations. So, in the coming decades, we can expect the World Cup to move more often to Asia and Africa and a sure beneficiary of this new line of thinking will be India. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the other day that the World Cup would soon come to India, it was not without any reason. FIFA has changed, changed for good. And Qatar is the reason behind it!

2022 FIFA ലോകകപ്പുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട സ്‌റ്റോറികൾക്കായി, ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക.

For FIFA World Cup 2022 related stories, click here.

About Author

Shabeer Ahmed

Engineer by profession with deep interest in the ideas of Social Engineering too. A Management professional of three decades standing in India and overseas, Shabeer Ahamed writes on Indian political and social situations as well as Sports.