Column No.6: The countdown to Qatar begins - By: Abdulkareem Baba Aminu | Dailytrust

Column No.6: The countdown to Qatar begins

The countdown to Qatar begins
The countdown to Qatar begins

With around two months to go until the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off – and with all I have been seeing plastered all over the media, Qatar is ready to host a historic event. This being the 22nd edition of arguably the most famous sporting event in history, it is particularly interesting that the flagship event for football lovers is taking place in the Middle East for the very first time, a development that was welcomed by a United Nations resolution. It’s a no-brainer that the organization of such a sporting event is beneficial for current populations, but also for future generations. Also, for brand-new football fans like myself.

From November 21 to December 18, Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Organized during weather that will spare players from the hot weather, the international competition will be contested by 32 teams. For the 14th time it is the German brand, Adidas, who designed the ball called “Al Rihla” (the trip in Arabic). As tradition dictates, hosts Qatar will play the opening match against Ecuador. The budding football fan in me is getting excited already, even if Malam Ismaila Lere, Daily Trust’s onetime long-time Sports Editor will wonder at what point I became a football aficionado.

The 62 matches will be split between eight stadiums, some of which are architectural masterpieces. Six of them have a capacity of 40,000 places, one of 60,000 places and finally the largest has a capacity of 80,000 places. They are all located less than an hour from central Doha, so fans and players will always be at the heart of the action. And, uniquely, the public will be able to attend more than one match per day at the start of the tournament. 

Even if I am sad that our national team did not make it, let’s not dwell on that. After all, this edition marks an important first, when four African coaches saw their respective countries to the World Cup. Aliou Cissé (Senegal), Rigobert Song (Cameroon), Jalel Kadri (Tunisia) and Otto Addo (Ghana) achieved the feat of qualifying their national teams for a football World Cup. Eight African referees have been selected by world football’s governing body. They are the Algerian Mustapha Ghorbal, the Moroccan Redouane Jiyed, the Ethiopian Balmak Tessema, the South African Victor Gomez, the Senegalese Maguette N’diayee, the Congolese Jean Jacques Ndala, the Gambian Papa Bakary Gassama, and the Zambian Janny Sikazwe. I’m also very eager to see Senegal, reigning African champions, play against the Netherlands. 

The business side of things also showcases how remarkable this outing will be. While 17 million tickets were requested during the first sale (January 19-February 8), Qatar recorded the number of 23.5 million during the second sales phase (April 5-May 12). The International Federation said the top eight requesting countries are England, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Brazil, the United States, France, Mexico and Qatar. A draw will decide the allocation of tickets. Ticket applicants will be notified by email of the outcome of their order beginning May 31. A final phase of “last minute” sales, the dates of which are not known, is planned. My fingers are crossed!

The United Nations adopted, on April 8, 2022, a resolution welcoming the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The 193 members of the General Assembly expressed their support for the “Healthy World Cup 2022: leaving a legacy for sport and health” project, launched as part of a multi-year partnership between the International Federation of Association Football, the World Health Organization, and Qatar. In October 2019, WHO and FIFA signed a four-year collaboration agreement to promote healthy lifestyles around the world through football. 

It is particularly heartening for me (a newbie football fan) that reforms have been undertaken in many areas of the great sport, and social conditions have been improved and respect for the environment has guided the construction of new facilities. To date, Qatar is even ahead in the Gulf, in terms of labour law. It pleased me no end when I read somewhere that while in Doha, former England captain David Beckham said: “When a country is lucky enough to host a competition as important as this, it’s great while it’s going on. But when it ends, the most important thing is to leave a legacy.” That would be a great thing to have.

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