Is the 2022 World Cup the most underwhelming ever?
At the time of writing, it’s just five days until the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar. For so many reasons though, it doesn’t feel like it’s less than a week away. The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events, only rivalled by the likes of the Superbowl and the Summer Olympic Games.
So, why isn’t there the hype we normally expect? And is this the most underwhelming World Cup ever? We give our take right here!
Off the field problems
Something that isn’t in doubt is the fact that this is the most controversial World Cup ever. There have been controversial World Cups in the past, with both the 1978 and 2018 tournaments being among the most polarising.
None have come close to Qatar though, which takes the unceremonious crown of being the most controversial sporting tournaments ever, not just for football.
Let’s start with the stadia set to host the World Cup. Seven of the eight venues are either brand new or are reconstructions of old grounds. Add the vast infrastructure projects required to transport, house and feed fans from throughout the world and it’s no wonder that this is the most expensive World Cup ever.
220 billion US dollars has been spent by Qatar so far for the 2022 World Cup. For reference, Russia spent $11.6bn and Brazil $15bn on their tournaments in 2018 and 2014, respectively.
This is before we get into the “workers” that have been “employed” to build these projects. Qatar has been condemned by the international treatment of migrant workers, thousands of which have died on the job since Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament back in 2010.
It’s not just workers that will suffer though, because we have to mention the treatment of LGBT people in Qatar. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and same-sex relationships can be punished by the death sentence.
It is a tragic turn of events that we’re going to a country that isn’t inclusive of all football fans, no matter their background.
Qatar should never host a World Cup
There are the reasons we listed just before, but Qatar is not a country that should ever host the World Cup for others as well.
Qatar is a tiny country in both population and area. They rank 158th in terms of area (around the same as the Falkland Islands) and 137th in terms of population (around the same as Albania). Can you imagine either of those countries hosting a global tournament? I certainly can’t.
Even former head of FIFA Sepp Blatter has admitted that giving the 2022 hosting rights to Qatar was “a mistake”.
In terms of footballing pedigree, Qatar isn’t at the races either. They have never qualified for the World Cup before and likely wouldn’t have made it if they didn’t receive a bye to the finals in 2022.
Can any of us honestly name a Qatari footballer? If I told you that Hassan Al-Haydos is the country’s highest appearance maker, would that mean anything to you?
Just to rub it in as well, the opening match of the tournament on Sunday is Qatar v Ecuador. Nobody in Europe would watch that if it was a friendly or a qualifier.
The Winter World Cup
The timing of this World Cup isn’t helping things. Prior to 2022, every edition of the World Cup has taken place in the Summer. That hasn’t been possible for this year’s tournament, as the weather is simply too hot in the Qatar desert for this to be safe.
On the surface, this might not seem like a huge issue, but it causes a lot of problems for fans and players.
We’ve gone into detail about how this is causing the biggest injury crisis in the history of football, but the fixture pile-up cannot be overestimated. The World Cup has effectively split the 2022-23 season in half, something European-based players have never experienced before.
While players such as Norway’s Erling Haaland will get nice winter break, this campaign will be gruelling for those going to represent their national teams at the World Cup. They will have no break from late July until the end of May, almost an entire year!
Part of the charm of the World Cup and other international tournaments is that it helps to plug the gap between the previous season ending and the new starting. However, these three weeks in November and December is more like an extended international break than something to help break up summer boredom.
All of this culminates in a tournament that we wouldn’t miss if it got cancelled. It won’t of course, we’re far too late for that now, but it shows that this competition should’ve been given to the USA. For once, we agree with Blatter, something we never thought we’d be saying.