On Monday, the drawn-out commencement to the World Cup in Qatar began, with the world’s best players focusing their attention on one of the most contentious championships.
After the last weekend of competition, domestic leagues halted for six weeks in preparation for the world championship, although teams had little time to prepare.
Against Sunday, the first Arab countries will host the World Cup will begin when the host country takes on Ecuador.
The World Cup has been moved from its traditional position in the northern hemisphere summer to escape the Gulf’s blazing heat, a radical overhaul of the international football calendar made necessary by the decision to hold the tournament in a desert state.
England and Netherlands
England and the Netherlands, two of the best teams in Europe, are among the teams that will be arriving on Tuesday.
As teams rushed to send in their final squad lists, Iran put their best player, Sardar Azmoun, who has supported protests in his home country, on their final squad.
The 22-year-old Mahsa Amini’s death has sparked protests across the Middle East. Azmoun, a player for the German club Bayer Leverkusen, has posted multiple messages on social media supporting the demonstrations.
During the protests, which the government has called “riots,” dozens of people, primarily protesters and security staff, have been killed.
Activists have asked Iran’s fans in Qatar to chant Amini’s name when the team plays.
Focus on the Football
When the tournament starts on Sunday, it will be the end of an extraordinary campaign by Qatar to win the vote to host the game and spend tens of billions of dollars building infrastructure and stadiums.
The appeals made by FIFA to “focus on the football” have been hard to hear as the countdown to kick-off has only brought more attention to how the country treats migrant workers, women, and people who are gay or questioning their sexuality.
Since Qatar was given the World Cup in 2010, workers from South Asia have been at the center of a heated debate over deaths, injuries, and working conditions.
FIFA must pay migrant employees
Amnesty International has demanded that FIFA promise to compensate migrant workers “for abuses suffered” during tournament preparations.
Qatar has firmly rejected the majority of the attacks, and local media has criticized the “arrogance” of some Western nations.
Monday, Australian players wouldn’t say more about what they had said about Qatar’s human rights record. Instead, they said they focused entirely on their first game against the defending champions, France.
Last month, 16 Socceroos players released a video in which they protested human rights abuses in the Gulf state while noting some positive changes.
Qatar is spending money on this event.
Australia forward Mitchell Duke, who was in the video, said at the team’s training base in Doha. “To be honest, I think we time things well with what was said.”
“We did that on purpose before we all went to the camp. Because our main goal was to focus on football once we got there.”
Qatar has spent a lot of money, even though it only has about three million people. And is one of the world’s biggest natural gas producers.
More than $6.5 billion has spent on new stadiums. And a driverless metro system that costs $36 billion serves five of the eight venues.
Tournament leaders say that of the 3.1 million tickets, 2.9 million have purchased. And fans are waiting outside ticket centers to see the best games.
Qatar said on Monday that three foreign men arrested outside of official ticketing centers in Doha for selling World Cup tickets. They gave no information about where they were from.
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