Qatar got the World Cup they wanted – 12/19/2022 – Sports

After all, the Qatar got what he wanted.

The tiny desert state, a peninsula in the shape of a thumb, aspired to be better known, to be a player on the world stage, when in 2009 it launched what seemed an unlikely bet to host the men’s football world cup, the most popular sporting event on Earth. Organizing the tournament cost more than anyone could imagine—in money, in time, in lives.

But on Sunday night (18), as fireworks filled the sky above Lusail, while Argentine fans chanted and their star, Lionel Messismile holding the trophy he waited his whole life to touch, everyone knew Qatar.

The spectacular ending —a dream final between Argentina and France🇧🇷 a first World Cup title for Messi, the best player in the world; a vibrant match resolved after six goals and a penalty shootout—secured that. And as if to be sure, to put the country’s final mark on the country’s first ever World Cup Middle East, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, stopped a beaming Messi as he was heading to collect the sport’s biggest trophy and pulled him back. There was one more thing that needed to be done.

He pulled on a gold-fringed bisht, the black cape worn in the Gulf on special occasions, and draped Messi’s shoulders before handing over the 18-carat gold trophy.

The celebration ended a tumultuous decade for a tournament awarded in a bribery scandal; tainted by allegations of abuse of human rights and for the deaths and injuries suffered by migrant workers hired to build the $200 billion World Cup; and obscured by controversial decisions about everythingfrom alcoholic beverages to armbands.

Yet for a month, Qatar was the center of the world, accomplishing a feat that none of its neighbors in the Arab world had managed, something that has sometimes seemed unthinkable in the years since the former president of Fifa, Joseph Blattermade the stunning announcement in a conference room in Zurich on December 2, 2010, that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup.

The sport is unlikely to have such a questionable host again any time soon. Qatar is perhaps among the most unsuitable hosts for a World Cup-sized tournament, a country so lacking in stadiums, infrastructure and history that its candidacy has been labeled “high risk” by FIFA’s own evaluators. But he took advantage of the only raw material he had in abundance: money.

Backed by seemingly inexhaustible financial resources to fuel its ambitions, Qatar embarked on a project that required nothing less than building, or rebuilding, the entire country in service of a month-long football tournament. Those billions were spent within its borders—seven new stadiums were built and other major infrastructure projects were completed at enormous financial and human costs. But when that wasn’t enough, he also spent lavishly abroad, buying teams and sports rights for billions of dollars and hiring sports stars and celebrities to support his cause.

All of this was on display on Sunday. By the time the final match was played at the $1 billion Lusail stadium, Qatar could not lose. The game was being shown across the Middle East by beIN Sports, the sports broadcasting giant created after the country won the World Cup hosting rights. He could also lay claim to the two best players on the field, the Argentine Messi and the French star Kylian Mbappeboth signed by French club Paris St.-Germain, from Qatar.

Mbappé, the first to score a hat-trick in a final for over half a century, ended the game sitting on the grass, comforted by President Emmanuel Macronfrom France, guest of the emir, while Argentine players danced in celebration around him.

The competition featured compelling — and sometimes troubling — storylines from the start, with the intensely political opening at Al Bayt Stadium, a massive venue designed to look like a Bedouin tent. That night, the Emir of Qatar sat side by side with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Qatar. Saudi Arabialess than three years after the latter led a punitive blockade of Qatar.

There would also be other challenges, some created by Qatar itself, such as the sudden ban on the sale of alcohol within the stadium’s perimeters just two days before the first game – a last-minute decision that left Budweiser, a former sponsor of football’s world governing body, FIFA, smoking on the sidelines.

On the second day of the tournament, FIFA squashed a campaign by a group of European teams to wear an armband to promote inclusionpart of pledges made to campaign groups and critics in their home countries, and so Qatar quashed efforts by Iranian fans to highlight political protests taking place in their country.

But on the field the competition paid off. There were great goals and great games, impressive comebacks and surprising results galore that created new heroes, particularly in the Arab world.

First up was Saudi Arabia, who can now claim to have beaten the World Cup champions in the group stage. O Moroccowho had only reached the knockout stage once before, became the first African team to advance to the semi-finals, pulling off an almost unbelievable winning streak against the heavyweights of European football: Belgium, Spain it’s the Portugal by Cristiano Ronaldo.

These results sparked celebration across the Arab world and in some major European capitals, while also providing a platform for supporters in Qatar. promote the Palestinian causethe only meddling in politics that the Qatari authorities have not tried to discourage.

By the end of the tournament, most of the fans had left, leaving the Argentines — a temporary population estimated at 40,000 — to provide the sonic backdrop for the final game. Dressed in blue and white stripes, they converged on the Lusail stadium, creating the kind of authentic World Cup atmosphere — bopping and singing for 120 minutes of play, and long after — that no amount of Qatari wealth could buy.

They got exactly what they wanted out of the World Cup. And Qatar too.

Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves

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