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  • Writer's pictureMarie Arnaudon

When sports save first impressions: the case of the 2022 Qatar World Cup

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

The 2022 FIFA World Cup ended last Sunday with Argentina taking their third title against France after a final for the history books.

This game was a portrait of this world cup where performances overlooked the controversies.

A not-so-popular World Cup

No sporting competition generates as much passion as the FIFA World Cup. Fans stop their lives for a month to cheer on their country.

However, when Qatar was elected as the host of this year's competition it seemed bizarre to the public.

It surprised a lot of people that FIFA trusted Qatar which is new on the football scene with the organisation of its most important competition.

How could you organize a sports competition in summer in a country where temperatures at that time of the year can rise above 50 degrees, where most of the land is desert, and whose political values are far from the ones FIFA is trying to carry?

These questions were followed by many underlying controversies that were uncovered by the media.

First, it was the allegations that Qatar was awarded the World Cup because of corruption.

Then, The Guardian published an article explaining the dire situation of the construction workers hired to build the stadiums.

According to the British newspaper, more than 6000 died on the construction sites due to working in the Qatari extreme climate.

And right before the competition, it was the One Love armband that caused a debate. Indeed, this armband was a protest against Qatar's anti-LGBTQI + laws. FIFA banned players from wearing it in respect of the hosting country.

All of these debates and controversies were dominating the coverage before the first game but once the competition started everything changed.

When Football steals the spotlight

Nothing holds more power than a football game itself. It can stop a country and makes you forget any negative that may revolve around the game.

The moment Saudi Arabia won against Argentina, who went on to win the tournament, the headlines shifted toward the world cup where everything is possible.

Marrocco's stunning performance all the way to the semi-final continued to fuel this narrative.

However, not all headlines were positive. Sadly, two journalists passed away during the competition.

A shift towards sporting performance was always going to happen in the media. Nonetheless, for the Qatari Government, this shift was crucial to restoring their image.

We saw one of the GOATS Lionel Messi win the title he most wanted for his last world cup.

The 2022 Qatar World Cup went from the World Cup no one wanted to support to the World Cup no one is going to forget.

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