Qatar makes World Cup debut in a controversial tournament of firsts


Doha, Qatar
CNN

There have been 21 editions of the Men’s World Cup since its inception in 1930, but Qatar 2022 will be a tournament unlike any other.

Since it was announced as the host city almost 12 years ago, it was always destined to be a first World Cup.

From extreme weather to tournament debuts, CNN looks at how this year’s competition is breaking new ground.

This is the first time Qatar’s men’s national team will be participating in a World Cup finals, having failed to qualify through the usual means in the past.

FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host nation to take part in a World Cup without a qualifying round, meaning the tiny Gulf state can now test itself against the best in world football.

Qatar is relatively new to the game, having played its first official match in 1970, but the country has fallen in love with the beautiful game and the national team has steadily improved.

In 2004, Aspire Academy was founded with the aim of finding and developing all of Qatar’s best players.

In recent years, it has rewarded its football team. Qatar won the 2019 Asian Cup by conceding just one goal throughout the tournament in one of the most memorable runs in tournament history.

Seventy percent of the cup-winning squad came through the academy and that number has only increased going into the World Cup.

Qatar, coached by Spaniard Felix Sanchez, will be looking to surprise people along with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands and will face a relatively kind side.

Qatar 2022 hopes to make a surprise in Qatar.

Although the World Cup has always been held in May, June or July, Qatar in 2022 will break away from such tradition – more out of necessity.

Keeping this in mind, the tournament was moved to a cooler time, as temperatures in Qatar can exceed 40 degrees Celsius during those months.

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However, winter in Qatar is a relative term and temperatures can still hover around 30 degrees, but organizers hope to combat the heat through multiple means, such as high-tech cooling systems in the stadiums.

Changing tournament dates has played havoc with some of the biggest domestic leagues in the world.

All of Europe’s top leagues have had to squeeze a winter break into their schedules, meaning congested fixture lists before and after the tournament.

This is the first World Cup to be held in November and December.

One of FIFA’s justifications for hosting Qatar was the potential to move the tournament to a new part of the world.

None of the 21 previous World Cups have been held in an Islamic country and this month’s tournament will be an opportunity to celebrate the region’s love of the game.

However, it certainly raised some issues that the organizers had to address. For many fans, drinking has been, and will continue to be, a big part of the experience at such tournaments.

In Qatar, however, public drunkenness is illegal, forcing organizers to come up with inventive ways to avoid the problem.

As a result, alcohol is only served in designated fan parks around Doha and fans have separate places to cool off before and after matches.

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Another question mark surrounding the tournament is how the country, with a population of less than three million, will cope with the expected attendance of one million spectators, making it the smallest country to host the World Cup.

As a result, all eight stadiums are located in and around the capital city of Doha, all within an hour’s drive of each other.

Organizers say tourism infrastructure – including buses, metro and car hire – will be able to cope with the increased pressure.

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One advantage of the short distances between stadiums is that fans can see up to 2 games in one day. Traffic should be courteous.

Because of its size, Qatar has also had to be smart about its accommodation. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are docked in Doha to provide some support to hotels.

Fans have the opportunity to stay on cruise ships in Doha Qatar.

Both cruises will offer the usual cruise experience, but fans won’t sail further than the 10-minute shuttle-bus ride into the heart of Doha.

For fans prone to seasickness, organizers have also built three ‘fan villages’ that offer a place to stay outside the city.

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These include a variety of accommodation – including caravans, portacabins and even camping experiences – and all are within a reasonable distance of the sites.

Also, for those who can afford a little more, there are luxury yachts docked in Doha Harbor that can offer a place to sleep for, let’s face it, an extortionate price.

FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon neutral World Cup, as football’s world governing body continues its pledge to make the game more environmentally friendly.

It, along with Qatar, pledged to offset carbon emissions by investing in green projects and buying carbon credits — a common practice used by businesses to “offset” the impact of their carbon footprint.

Qatar, the world’s biggest per-capita emitter of carbon dioxide, has said it will remove as much carbon from the atmosphere as the tournament produces, reducing emissions by investing in projects that capture greenhouse gases.

For example, it will sow the seeds for the world’s largest grass farm by planting 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees.

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These plants will be placed in stadiums and elsewhere across the country and will absorb thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

However, critics have accused organizers of “greenwashing” the event – a term used to refer to those trying to cover up damage to the environment and climate by false, misleading or over-hyped green initiatives.

Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a non-profit advisory group specializing in carbon pricing, says Qatar’s calculations are grossly underestimated.

In Qatar 2022, female referees will officiate a men’s World Cup match for the first time.

Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart have been named among the 36 officials selected for the tournament.

They will be accompanied by Neuza Back, Karen Diaz Medina and American Kathryn Nesbitt to the Gulf nation as assistants.

Fraparte is perhaps the most famous name on the list after writing her name into the history books in 2020 after becoming the first woman to take charge of a men’s Champions League match.

Referee Yoshimi Yamashita will make his debut at the Men's World Cup.

But looking to learn from her in Qatar is Rwanda’s Mukansanga, who told CNN she is excited to embrace the challenge of refereeing a major tournament.

“I’m looking forward to what the referees do, to copy what they do best, so that I can make it to the World Cup one day,” she said, adding that her family couldn’t wait to see it. She leads to the field.

It has yet to be decided when women will referee their first match at the tournament, but there are some new rules to be enforced.

For the first time, teams will be able to use up to five substitutes and managers can now choose from a squad of 26 players instead of the usual 23.

Qatar is scheduled to start on November 20, 2022. You can follow CNN’s World Cup coverage here.

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