SRINAGAR: Millions of people have a new routine now – to stay glued to the TV, twice, every 24 hours, to watch football, the most loved global support. The FIFA World Cup 2022 started in Qatar on Sunday.
Played every four-year since 1932, the World Cup 2022 is being hosted by Qatar, the first-ever venue for the grand competition that is being held ever in the Arab World. This is for the first time that the global tourney is being held in Asia.
Regardless of how many people would watch it live or in a deferred telecast, so far nearly 30 lakh tickets have been sold, which is a record. FIFA’s governing body’s president has said in the last four years when the World Cup venue was decided, record revenue of US $7.5 billion was raised through commercial deals tied to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The 29-day sports event would witness 64 matches between 32 participating teams. Right now France is the defending champion. A record US $440 million is the prize money that will be distributed between the winners. The new champion will take the US $42 million home and the runner-up will have a US $ 30 million prize. This will be the last tournament with 32 participants. The new cup, four years later will have 48 teams competing for the cup.
The tournament’s inaugural match was played between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium. This made Qatar the first host country in FIFA history that lost its opening game. The final is slated for December 18, 2022, coinciding with Qatar’s National Day.
Participating teams are grouped into eight groups. The tournament is contested with eight round-robin groups followed by a knockout round for 16 teams.
Host Qatar had to fight a lot to manage the negativity associated with the country over its human rights records including persecution of the LGBT community and inhumanity with the labour class, mostly non-native Asians. Even after getting the right to host the top event, the country faced strong criticism for its treatment of the working class involved in preparation for the World Cup. So many workers claimed they had to pay large “recruitment fees” to obtain employment.
It was a grand inauguration. However, what made it different was that it started with the recitation of the Quran for the first time in the tourney’s history. Quran reciter, Ghanim Al Muftah, 20, who is a Fifa World Cup ambassador, made the recitation. “Oh mankind, indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another,” the translation of the recitation reads.
Muftah is an inspiration. He was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare disorder that impairs the development of the lower spine. Despite that is Qatar’s youngest entrepreneur, having founded an ice cream business. He plays multiple sports despite physical disabilities.
As the country’s Emir opened the World Cup, he kissed his father’s hand and welcomed the world to football’s biggest event, the first time it has been staged in the Middle East.
“From Qatar, from the Arab world, I welcome everyone to the World Cup 2022,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said. “How lovely it is that people can put aside what divides them to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together.” Then, fireworks exploded from the roof of Al Bayt stadium.
This will be the first FIFA Cup where the dress code will be strictly implemented, no booze would be around except in high-luxury suits and spectators will have to avoid displaying passion publicly.