Op-Ed: Put an asterisk on the Qatar World Cup
Qatar has an amazing record. During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it hosted two games and won the tournament for the first time in men’s soccer history. Back in October 2002, the Gulf nation was awarded the 2008 Football World’s Best tournament title, but the tournament ended there – with Brazil winning the World Cup.
It was a similar story last year at the U.S. World Cup, with the United States, Mexico, and Panama winning it all. But that’s where the similarities end. In a tournament that was supposed to be the pinnacle of world-class competition, the United States finished with a disappointing loss to Ghana and the Mexican team was upset by Ghana.
Not that there isn’t good soccer to be found in Qatar. The nation is often rated in the top three countries in the world for world-class teams, which are led by the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea. But as of late, Qatar has been mired in controversy, mainly related to its government-dictated hosting of the World Cup, which has resulted in protests and unrest from the majority of the populace that felt the tournament was a cheap and cheap opportunity to gain tourist dollars, and not that FIFA’s decision was a good one.
Now, as the Qatar World Cup approaches, controversy continues to rise. The nation has seen some incredible players over the years, including Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Roberto Firmino, and Diego Costa. But the 2014 tournament was supposed to be a showcase for the top players from all over the world, and not their cronies.
That’s not to say that Qatar has no fans, however, because the country has a large number of passionate supporters. But the country also has a massive budget deficit and is facing a financial crisis. The tournament, hosted by FIFA, has had a tremendous impact on the citizens of the nation because it allows them to watch top players, not only in the country but all over the world. And not only do these soccer fans go to watch the stars, but people travel to the Middle East to see how Qatar’s athletes compete and win against the best.