Few things bring people together like sport does. Notwithstanding the heated verbal battles that ensue off-field between rival supporters, the love of the sport unites.
There are two mecca events on the world calendar that benefit from tens of thousands of viewers. All eyes are fixed on the games whenever The Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup are staged.
Sadly, COVID-19 took that away from us given the pause on contact sports in the interest of public health. While it significantly affected the Olympic Games, World Cup Football dodged the bullet in that the last time the championships were staged was 2018 in France.
Both events are staged every four years, and for the weeks of action, people claim nationalities that aren’t theirs, and fall in love with a favourite sportsperson or team. People make time during their hectic daily lives to become totally engrossed in sporting action.
Like most football lovers, we too were happy to watch the opening ceremony and first match of the FIFA World Cup.
This year’s spectacular opening ceremony celebrated host country Qatar’s culture and traditions while also attempting to unite cultures from all over the world.
The highly-anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony featured many international A-list artists and performers.
The spectacular opening ceremony began with a performance celebrating Qatar’s tradition, culture, and history. The ceremony was marked by a surprise appearance from American actor Morgan Freeman, who delivered a speech attempting to unite Arab and Western cultures.
A remix of all previous FIFA World Cup songs was played during the event, including Shakira’s famous Waka Waka and Magic System’s Magic in the Air, among others. Several world leaders attended the opening of the World Cup.
After the ceremony, the first game with Qatar and Ecuador ended in a victory for Ecuador who scored two goals leaving Qatar on zero. It was an historic occasion for many reasons.
For the first time ever the middle-east country played in the World Cup, having failed to qualify through usual means in the past.
Likewise, it is the first time the coveted global sport is being staged in that country.
FIFA allows a host nation to take part in a World Cup without having to go through the qualifying rounds.
None of the 21 previous World Cups have been held in an Islamic country and this month’s tournament will be a chance for the region to celebrate its growing love for the game.
However, it undoubtedly raises a few problems that organisers have had to tackle. For many fans, drinking alcohol has, and will continue to be, a big part of the experience of such tournaments. In Qatar, though, it’s illegal to be seen drunk in public, which has forced organisers to come up with ways to tackle 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.
Another issue pundits have been discussing is the fact that the World Cup has always been held in either May, June or July but Qatar 2022 has broken away from such tradition – more out of necessity.
The Qatar situation also brings back memories of us, in the West Indies, hosting the Cricket World Cup 2007 and the issue of capacity. Due to its size, Qatar has also had to be smart with its accommodation. It was reported that two cruise ships, MSC Poesia and MSC World Europa, are being moored in Doha to provide some support to hotels.
Some football fans have to stay on those cruise ships. Both vessels will offer the usual cruise ship experience, but fans won’t be sailing any further than the 10-minute shuttle-bus ride into the heart of Doha.
All eight stadiums are in and around Doha and are all within an hour’s drive of each other. Organisers say the travel infrastructure – including buses, metro and car hires – will be able to cope with the increased pressure. One benefit of the small distances between venues is that fans will be able to see up to two games in one day.
Apart from Qatar’s uniqueness as host, there are some firsts and wins for FIFA as well. This World Cup will also see female referees officiate all-men’s teams in World Cup matches for the first time.
Yamashita Yoshimi, Salima Mukansanga and Stephanie Frappart have all been named among the 36 officials selected for the tournament.
Indeed, FIFA and Qatar are both poised to score big should all go well over the next six weeks. With so many firsts being recorded during this historic World Cup we hope it will signal great things for the future of the sport and sportsmanship. As we take in the matches and enjoy this period of friendly rivalry we are optimistic that this could prove to be the start of a more diverse and inclusive FIFA World Cup.