As one of the best World Cups ever ended in Russia, football’s biggest tournament must now prepare for its most controversial, in Qatar in 2022.
Since the tournament was handed to the supremely wealthy Gulf state, whose team has never appeared in a World Cup, FIFA’s decision has been roundly questioned and resulted in severe consequences for football and its governing body.
The four-year run-up to the Middle East’s first ever World Cup is unlikely to prove any different.
With a host rocked by a diplomatic crisis, accused of supporting terrorism, facing allegations of corruption and human rights abuse, a tournament shifted to November and December for the first time and uncertainty over how many teams will take part in 2022, it is fair to say there has never been a World Cup like Qatar’s.
List of issues
The myriad of issues surrounding Qatar 2022 are almost unfathomable.
Corruption investigations continue with the Swiss Attorney General’s office examining the awarding of the 2022 tournament as well as an American court case hearing graft claims last year.
The thorny issue of compensation for Europe’s top leagues including Spain, England and Germany because they will suspend their leagues during a “Winter World Cup” remains unresolved, with a payout as high as one billion euros suggested in some quarters.
Despite mooted labour reforms affecting some two million migrant workers helping build World Cup venues and related projects, human rights groups remain anxious about the pace of reform promised by Qatar.
And the enthusiasm among some FIFA members for a 48-team World Cup in 2022 rumbles on.
As if all that is not enough, Qatar now has to follow one of the greatest World Cups, with expectations vastly raised ahead of 2022.AFP
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