The 2022 Fifa World Cup kicks off in under three weeks in Qatar and the real question at the moment is – does anyone really care?
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The World Cup is usually the most eagerly-anticipated event on any sporting, let alone football calendar, but a couple of factors do seem to be making this version possibly the one least looked forward to in the tournament’s history.
The first is that Fifa, in their most certainly not infinite wisdom, have dumped this World Cup, for the first time, in the middle of a season of club football. International football struggles as it is in the face of club allegiances, and while a World Cup carries its own special global charm, it is fast becoming clear that this is not ideal timing.
Players are hobbling out of the competition at speed, notably the likes of N’golo Kante and Paul Pogba, so vital to France’s win in 2018 and England’s Reece James, while Brazil’s Richarlison, France’s Raphael Varane and South Korea’s Son-Heung Min are all serious doubts.
The reason Fifa moved the World Cup to this time is that the weather in Qatar is suffocatingly hot when the tournament is usually played in June and July.
But Fifa knew this when they awarded the tournament to Qatar, so why did they give the tournament to Qatar in the first place?
The obvious answer to that one, frankly, is money, which also seems to have overidden the country’s abysmal human rights record.
This World Cup is being held in a country where it is illegal to be gay, where women are severely discrimated against, and where according to a report in the Guardian in February 2021, more than 6500 migrant workers had died since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar.
No doubt excitement will pick up as the finals approach, especially after the top leagues like La Liga and the English Premier League stop (La Liga is still running to November 10 and the EPL to November 13), and even more so when the tournament kicks off on November 20. For now, however, there is a definite feeling of disinterest.
And plenty of time, too, for more star names to fall by the wayside.