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 inauguration in 1930 but Qatar 2022 is set to be a tournament like no other.

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

From extreme weather to tournament debuts, CNN looks at the ways this year’s competition will break new ground.

This will be the first time that the Qatari men’s national team will participate in a World Cup finals, having failed to qualify through conventional means in the past.

FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host nation to take part in a World Cup without the qualifying rounds, which means the small Gulf state can now test itself against the best in world soccer.

Qatar is relatively new to the sport, 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, the Aspire Academy was established in the hope of finding and developing all of Qatar’s most talented sportspeople.

In recent years, that has paid off for his soccer team. Qatar won the Asia Cup in 2019, capping off one of the most memorable runs in the tournament’s history, conceding just one goal throughout the tournament.

Seventy percent of the team that won the trophy came through the academy, and that number only increased in the World Cup.

Coached by Spaniard Felix Sanchez, Qatar will look to surprise people and face a relatively friendly group alongside Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.

Qatar will look for a surprise in Qatar 2022.

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

Temperatures in Qatar can reach over 40 degrees Celsius during those months, so, with that in mind, the tournament has been moved to a cooler time.

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However, winter in Qatar is a relative term with temperatures still likely to be around 30 degrees, but organizers hope to combat the heat with multiple methods, such as high-tech cooling systems in stadiums.

The change in tournament dates has wreaked havoc with some of the biggest domestic leagues in the world.

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

This will be the first World Cup in November and December.

One of FIFA’s justifications for awarding Qatar the hosting rights is the ability to take 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 for the region to celebrate its growing love for the game.

However, there are undoubtedly a few problems that organizers have to deal with. For many fans, drinking alcohol has, and will continue to be, a big part of the experience of such tournaments.

In Qatar, however, it is illegal to be seen drunk in public, which has forced organizers to come up with inventive ways to circumvent the issue.

As a result, alcohol will only be served in designated fan parks around Doha and there will be separate areas for fans to sober up before and after matches.

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Another question mark surrounding the tournament is how the country will be able to handle the influx of an expected one million visitors, as it is the smallest country to host the World Cup, with a population of just under three million.

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

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

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One benefit of the short distances between venues is that fans can see up to two games in one day. Should the traffic be good.

Due to its size, Qatar also has to be smart with its accommodation. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, were moored in Doha to provide some support to hotels.

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

Both vessels will offer the usual cruise ship experience, but fans will be traveling no further than the 10-minute shuttle bus ride into the heart of Doha.

For fans prone to a touch of seasickness, organizers have also built three ‘fan villages’ that will offer a place to stay on the outskirts of the city.

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These include a variety of accommodation – including caravans, portacabins and even camping experiences – and all are located within reasonable distances from the venues.

Also, for those who can afford a little more, there will be luxury yachts docked in Doha’s port, which 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 world soccer’s governing body keeps its promise to make the sport 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 “cancel” the impact of a carbon footprint.

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

For example, it will be sowing the seeds for the largest turf farm in the world by planting 679,000 shrubs and 16,000 trees.

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The plants will be installed at stadiums and elsewhere across the country and are supposed to absorb thousands of tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

However, critics have accused organizers of “greenwashing” the event – a term used to call out those who try to cover their damage to the environment and climate with green initiatives that are false, misleading or overstated.

Carbon Market Watch (CMW), a nonprofit advocacy group that specializes in carbon pricing, says Qatar’s calculations are grossly underestimated.

Qatar 2022 will also see women refer to a men’s World Cup game for the first time.

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

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

Frappart is arguably the most famous name on the list after she wrote her name in the history books in 2020 by becoming the first woman to take charge of a men’s Champions League match.

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

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

“I would look at what the referees do, just to copy the best things they do, so that one day I would be in the World Cup like that,” she said, adding that her family can’t wait to see. You take to the pitch.

It has not yet been decided when the women will be refereeing their first match in the tournament, but there will be some new rules to enforce.

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

Qatar 2022 is set to begin on November 20. You can follow CNN’s coverage of the World Cup here.

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