The 2022 World Cup Begins in Qatar


The 2022 World Cup began on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Qatar, as the hosts fell to Ecuador, 2-0, in the first game of group play. The 64 total games throughout the tournament will conclude when the final is held on Sunday, Dec. 18. Shrouded by controversy and debate, this year’s World Cup will certainly be one to remember. 

Controversial Beginnings

The Federation Internationale de Football Association, better known as FIFA, is widely recognized as the soccer world’s governing body. But going back as far as a decade, FIFA’s public relations have been riddled with charges of corruption, bribery, and racketeering. So when Qatar, a nation smaller than Connecticut with little relevance in the soccer world, emerged to win the bid for the 2022 World Cup back in 2010, public skepticism brought the ethics of FIFA and its awarding process into global focus. 

These questionable methods that allowed the middle eastern nation to host the tournament first became public when leaked emails in 2011 from the general secretary of FIFA, claimed that the 2022 tournament bid had been “bought” by Qatar. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who resigned in 2015 amidst scandals of bribery and corruption, admitted that it was a mistake of his that allowed for Qatar to host the tournament. In an interview with Swiss media group Tamedia, Blatter confessed, “It was a bad choice. And I was responsible for that as president at the time.” Blatter also referenced Nicolas Sarkozy, as it is rumored that the former French President pressured FIFA members into voting for Qatar to help further a $14 billion arms deal between the two nations. 

The country’s stance as the fourth-richest country in the world has allowed it to splurge in dozens of massive infrastructure projects to support this year’s tournament. The total expenditures, totaling over $200 billion, have not come without scrutiny. Dating back as far as 2013, reports and allegations have been released accusing the middle eastern nation of human rights abuse, as the conditions for the workers responsible for building the numerous stadiums and hotels has been likened to a “modern-day slavery.” Since the 2010 announcement of the Qatar bid, nearly 7,000 migrant workers, from nearby nations such as Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, have died, as well as thousands more that traveled from other nearby countries to work. In addition, Qatar’s public discrimination of women and people in the LGBTQ community has fueled online boycotts of the tournament. With the shocking awarding of the 2022 World Cup to a nation that exhibits such values, FIFA’s core values of integrity, courage, and justice have been, and will likely continue to be called into question. 

(Un)familiar Faces

Many typical contenders will not be present in Qatar this year. Italy will miss their second consecutive World Cup after winning the European Championships in 2020, and eight other teams from the last Cup will not be returning for another shot in 2022. Sweden and Colombia, who both topped their groups in 2018, had their hopes ruined after failing to advance from their qualifying brackets. Ironically enough, Qatar makes its World Cup appearance in 2022. Wales and Canada are making their second ever appearance in the global tournament. Brazil will return to the World Cup for the 22 time, as the South American nation continues its streak of being the only country to participate in every World Cup since its inception in 1930. 

Injury Woes

Due to the immense heat during Qatari summers, this year’s tournament has been moved to take place mostly during the month of December. This puts the international tournament in the midst of the players’ domestic leagues. Dozens of big-name players from across the globe are missing the tournament because of their compact schedules. Many players playing for high-level teams play two or more games per week, between domestic league play and intercontinental tournaments. 

The biggest victim of the surge of injuries is France, who are missing several starting players and important substitutes. The 2018 world champions are missing 2022 player of the year Karim Benzema, 2021 player of the year finalist N’Golo Kante, and other key contributors such as Christopher Nkunku, Eduardo Camavinga, and Paul Pogba. Many more players are listed as day-to-day as the increase in game play has begun to wear on their bodies. Argentina’s Paolo Dybala, England’s Reece James, and Senegal’s Sadio Mane will also miss the tournament from injuries picked up during their club seasons. 

While the ethicality of the tournament is heavily debated, the World Cup remains a popular event for the world to be united over their love of the game. With nearly a quarter of a million planning to attend the games, and hundreds of millions in TV viewership on a daily basis, the beautiful game is sure to attract fans from all corners of the world to show their support and pride for their countries or favorite players. After 28 days and 64 games, a new champion will be crowned as the best in the world. The world can’t wait to find out who it will be.