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 nearly 12 years ago, it was always destined to be the first World Cup.

From severe weather to the tournament’s debut, CNN takes a look 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 the World Cup finals, after failing to qualify through the usual methods in the past.

FIFA, the sport’s governing body, allows a host nation to participate in the World Cup without having to go through the qualifying rounds, meaning the tiny Gulf state can now test itself against the best in world football.

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, Aspire Academy was established with the hope of finding and developing all the talented athletes in Qatar.

In recent years, that has reaped rewards for the football team. Qatar won the Asian 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 title came through the academy, and that number only increased before the World Cup.

Coached by Spain’s Felix Sanchez, Qatar will be looking to surprise people and face a relatively bland group, along with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.

Qatar is looking forward to making a surprise in Qatar 2022.

The World Cup has always taken place in May, June or July, but Qatar 2022 will break from that tradition – out of necessity.

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

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

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

All of Europe’s top leagues have been forced to work a winter break on their schedules, which means packed fixture lists before and after the tournament.

This will be the first time that the World Cup finals will be held in November and December.

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

None of the previous 21 World Cups have been played in a Muslim country, and this month’s tournament will be an opportunity for the region to celebrate its growing love for the game.

However, it undoubtedly raises some problems that regulators had to address. For many fans, drinking was, is, and will be a huge part of the experience of such tournaments.

But in Qatar, it is illegal to be seen drunk in public, which has forced organizers to come up with innovative ways to get around the problem.

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

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Another question mark over the tournament is how the country will be able to handle the expected influx of one million visitors, given that 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 located in and around Doha, the capital, and are all within an hour’s drive of each other.

Organizers say the travel infrastructure – including bus, metro and car rentals – will be able to handle the increased pressure.

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One of the benefits of the smaller distances between stadiums is that fans will be able to watch up to two matches in one day. Traffic should be nice.

Given its size, Qatar has also had to be smart with its accommodations. Two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are docked in Doha to provide some hotel support.

Fans will have the opportunity to linger aboard the cruise ships in Doha, Qatar.

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

For those fans prone to seasickness, the organizers have also built three ‘fan villages’ which will provide accommodation on the outskirts of the city.

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These include a variety of accommodations – including caravans, caravans and even camping experiences – all within a reasonable distance of the premises.

Also, for those who can afford more, there will be luxury yachts moored in the port of Doha, which can provide a place to sleep, let’s face it, for a hefty price.

FIFA has pledged to make Qatar 2022 the first carbon-neutral World Cup, as FIFA continues its pledge to make the sport more environmentally friendly.

It has, along with Qatar, pledged to offset its carbon emissions by investing in green projects and purchasing carbon credits – a common practice used by companies to “offset” the impact of their carbon footprint.

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

For example, you will plant the seeds of the largest herb farm in the world by planting 679,000 bushes and 16,000 trees.

The plants will be located in stadiums and other venues across the country and are supposed to suck thousands of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere each year.

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

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

Qatar 2022 will also see female referees officiating a men’s World Cup match for the first time.

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

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

Frappart is arguably the best-known of the names on the list, having written her name into the history books in 2020 by becoming the first woman to take charge of a match in the men’s UEFA Champions League.

Referee Yoshimi Yamashita will make her men's World Cup debut.

But looking forward to learning from her in Qatar is the Rwandan native, who told CNN she is excited to take on the challenge of refereeing at a major tournament.

“I’ve been looking at what the referees do, just to imitate the best things they do, so that one day I’ll be in a World Cup like this,” she said, adding that her family can’t wait to see her take to the field.

It is yet to be decided when the women will officiate their first match at the tournament, but there will be some new rules that will need to apply.

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

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

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