“Qatar Lights Show” (CC BY 2.0) by (Domz-Viewfinder) D.R.Pentecostes
Whether or not you are on board with the idea, Qatar will be holding the next World Cup in 2022. The Arab country, no bigger than Yorkshire, has won the right to host the most famous sporting tournament in the world. Though do not be fooled by its size, as Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world because of its natural gas and oil reserves.
This will be the first time the tournament will be held in the Middle East. It will also be the first time the tournament will not be held be over the summer months and will actually take place during November and December, with plans to host the final seven days before Christmas. Originally won as a summer tournament, it was decided by FIFA that the tournament held in Qatar would have to be moved to the winter as temperatures would be too hot during the summer, reaching in excess of 50 degrees.
The country has primarily focused and prided themselves on their oil and natural gas reserves but their World Cup bid has shown they want to assert themselves in front of a world audience. For a country which is not known for their love of football, they are taking huge strides to make sure they are prepared going into the tournament.
The government is currently investing $200 billion to rebuild Qatar for their World Cup and are investing a large amount of this by bringing in the best coaches to train the next generation in world-class facilities, often used by Bayern Munich during their winter break.
So a country with no footballing history or culture is about to hold the most prestigious tournament in the world, but will their side be humiliated in front of the world? The answer, in short, is no. Qatar competed in the 2019 Asian Cup, expected to be complete outsiders according to the bookmakers. However, not only did they go on and win it at the expense of Japan, they conceded one goal the entire tournament, and that was in the final.
? C H A M P I O N S ?
?? #Qatar are the #AsianCup2019 winners. Their first ever title! History! pic.twitter.com/ceRMnUwCtL
— #AsianCup2023 (@afcasiancup) February 1, 2019
The Japanese side certainly weren’t pushovers, fielding players featuring in top European leagues. Yoshida, who captained the side on that occasion, is a regular for Southampton, who are expected to improve on last season’s performance according to Premier League betting.
Qatar even humiliated the hosts, United Arab Emirates, 4-0 in the semi-finals in a hostile atmosphere. This was certainly no fluke, however, as the government had set up what is known as the Aspire Academy in 2015.
The academy’s aim focuses on nurturing the best male athletes, who are also provided with secondary school education. With places limited, the academy will only offer places to the very best. Having nurtured the players in world-class facilities, the country has started to reap the rewards for their efforts.
They are competing in other tournaments over the summer, such as the Copa America, to keep their edge. It’s a long shot to say the nation will be competing to win the World Cup, especially at the first attempt, but it is very naive to presume Qatar have not taken their preparation on the pitch seriously. In front of the rest of the world, Qatar will put on a World Cup to remember, but first and foremost they want to prove they are a growing footballing nation.