When Sepp Blatter announced in 2010 that Qatar would be hosting the 2022 World Cup, many thought it would become the most controversial world cup of all time. How could a country of fewer than 3 million people host the biggest football fiesta? They asked. How can a Muslim country with its laws deal with the rest of the world when they visit? Why not allow one of the other bidders to host the competition since they already have the facilities to do so?
Twelve years after Blatter’s announcement, Qatar seems to have answered every question after it hosted what many have described as the best world cup ever. FIFA president Gianni Infantino was the first to describe the competition as the “best ever.”
During a press briefing two days before the final match, Infantino said: “Many people from around the world have come to Qatar and have discovered the Arab world, which they didn’t know or they knew only for what was portrayed to them.”
“We had 3.27m spectators (in the stadiums)…We played 62 matches without incidents, with a very joyful atmosphere. Two matches to go,” he stated.
The small country that somehow managed to win the bid to host the world cup spent over $220 billion to ensure good stadiums and that visitors get the maximum comfort. A total of eight stadiums were built. Some were built from scratch, while others underwent heavy renovation work.
The fans agreed it was the best
Most football fans have agreed with FIFA’s president that the competition is the best in football’s history. They took to social media to express how Qatar 2020 was the best the world has witnessed.
“They wanted to use Qatar’s refusal to promote rainbow bs to push a negative narrative about them and the world cup they hosted, but them guys turned around and hosted the best world cup of all Time,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another Twitter user wrote: “Qatar hosted what is likely the best World Cup (and final) in recent history and pulled it off magnificently well. This is why you shouldn’t listen to hypocrites who throw stones in glass houses.”
“The best world cup hosted in the history of football,” Leem, another football fan, tweeted. “Some people are jealous & doing propaganda. Keep crying.”
Another wrote: “Qatar literally showed it to the whole world HOW IT IS DONE!! they hosted the best FIFA WORLD CUP it’s such an absolutely beautiful and peaceful country I am so happy for them.”
Lola Okurin, another football fan described the Qatar world cup as the perfect one. He wrote: “Against all odds, Qatar hosted the best World Cup Ever. It was perfect. Give them the crown.”
The unnecessary distractions
Qatar is one imperfect country like every other nation in the world. One would not deny the fact that they had gotten some things wrong in the past, and it would be wrong to say they will have a perfect future. However, rather than focus on the fun of the world cup, most fans, players and media focused on issues that could have caused more harm than good. Many thought there was nothing good about Qatar.
The following were some of the issues raised in Qatar before the world cup began.
Before the world cup, the issue of human rights topped concerns that threatened a peaceful and successful tournament. Qatar’s handling of migrant workers and homosexuals was portrayed as one of the reasons a World Cup should not have gone to Qatar. Should captains wear a rainbow band to send a message to Qatar? Can football fans openly come out as gays in Qatar?
If a country allows the use of some hard drugs, will it be legal for a citizen of that country to take such items to another country that prohibits it? Every country has the right to make laws for itself, including Qatar. If Qataris are supposed to uphold the laws of other countries when visiting, why can’t people of other countries do the same? Rather than encourage their citizens to uphold the laws in Qatar, Western media portrayed Qataris’ laws to be so complex that no one could adhere to them for the few days of the World Cup. Most football fans and players, instead of looking for ways to cope with the laws for a few weeks, wanted to send a message to the Qatari government to change its laws. Something impossible at least for now.
Despite the initial arguments and tensions, the Qataris government managed the world cup peacefully and tactfully handled all dissenting voices so that the competition would go on smoothly.
It is a known law in most, if not all, Islamic countries that alcohol is prohibited. However, the Qatar government was kind enough to ban beer and other forms of alcohol only in football stadiums. A match would last for barely two hours. Would it be truly fair to protest one’s inability to drink alcohol for two hours?
It appears that the alcohol debate did not last long, as the beer advocates got carried away by the World Cup feeling that comes once in four years.
Qatar relied on migrant workers to get most of the World Cup preparations done. One could not outrightly tell if these people were fairly treated or not until every side of the story is told. However, Western media said Qatar maltreated these people and protested on their behalf. However, there was no indication that the migrant workers protested their treatment in Qatar or complained of not being paid their wages. But the media spoke on their behalf when more people were going in to work in Qatar.
Interestingly, the argument could not hold the water, nor did it affect the beautiful competition.
How fair was the media?
The media cannot be completely wrong on the issues it raised regarding Qatar and how the World cup became a reality. However, one would wonder if Qatar is always doing the wrong thing. The receptive culture of Qatar and the hard work put in place to make the world cup a reality was never talked about.
Fairness is the “impartial and just treatment or behaviour without favouritism or discrimination.” At the end of the World cup, no major crime was reported, no football fan was maltreated because of his sexual orientation, and nobody was prosecuted for drinking alcohol.
Qatar is definitely not a perfect country, but a media that fails to talk about how they accommodated the world peacefully might have been unfair to them.
A fair judgment
Muhsin Ibrahim, who has been to Qatar seems to have passed a fair judgment. He raised the concerns but also showered praises for the things rightly done.
In a series of tweets, the blogger and writer said he was mistreated at the airport two months ago but could not deny that the world cup supersedes all expectations.
“I have a problem with Qatar for two primary reasons. 1st, I was mistreated at their airport months ago. 2nd, their maltreatment of some immigrant workers,” Ibrahim wrote. “However, they hosted the best Fifa world cup ever.”
“There are several testimonies, especially from women fans. Women testified that they had the best experience in Qatar. The English fans, known for their wild behaviour during football tournaments, returned home without any issue with the securities,” he added.
He described the media houses that wrote only the negative about Qatar as “Qatari’s detractors,” who did not wish the World cup ended the way it did. He added that the cloak put on Messi’s body was Qatar’s way of trolling the critics.
“Qatar has taught the West, if not the rest of the world, that they are people with religious and cultural values. They are also willing and ready to defend those values,” Ibrahim continued. “Therefore, we should learn to respect differences.”
The two best world cups in the most unexpected places
The last time a competition was described as the best was when South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup. It was the first and only time an African country hosted the tournament. Following Sunday’s final, the phrase “best world cup” returned after Qatar became the first and only country in the middle east to host the competition.
When these two countries won the bids to host the World Cups, FIFA was criticized and condemned. Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter once said his ordeal and forceful removal from the position was because he brought the “World Cup to Africa.”
These countries found a way to prove FIFA right and set the standard that the most successful world cups happen in the most unexpected places. Even if Qatar had abused human rights and mistreated migrants, it was time to at least admit that the 2022 World Cup is one of the best if not the very best.