The FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar in 2022 is hailed as the best ever, featuring iconic football moments such as Lionel Messi’s triumph, historic upsets, and the tournament’s significance as the first held in the Middle East, challenging Western double standards and sparking global discussions on racism and prejudice.
A year ago, Qatar staged the “best ever” FIFA World Cup, forever shaping the legacy of the tournament and the Gulf State, which captured the minds and attention of the world, defying all odds.
The top-to-bottom success of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 earned the global consensus that it was the ‘best edition ever’ for more than one reason.
From 172 goals hitting the net to an engagement of five billion people, Qatar’s hosting became a wish list for future tournaments.
No moment can replicate Lionel Messi claiming the last trophy missing in his remarkable career, as he helped Argentina win its third World Cup title.
With the writing on the wall, the back-and-forth intrigue between Argentina and France, which witnessed an epic comeback, will live in fans’ spirits worldwide like an impressionistic masterpiece.
Iconic football moments
Outside of arguably the best final ever, the Qatar hosting witnessed several surprises, shocks, and upsets during the entire tournament.
Before Messi would complete his football journey and lift the World Cup trophy, the Argentinian faced a shocker as Saudi Arabia defeated the team 2-1 during the group stages.
In one of the biggest World Cup upsets, Salem Al-Dawsari sealed the victory at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, gifting a wave of surprise and fear to an Argentinian team on a mission to win a long-forgotten FIFA title.
Another historic moment was Morocco becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals.
Prior to the Qatar hosting, the African side had yet to reach the quarter-final stage of the World Cup, yet Morocco proved anything is possible.
The brave-hearted squads, aided by their mother chants, added Christinao Ronaldo Portugal to their list of European teams eliminated after previous upset wins over Belgium and Spain on penalties.
When the Atlas Lions bowed out of the tournament, their presence on the pitch inspired football fans worldwide and sparked an Arab and Muslim unity wave.
The Japanese rewrote history at the 2022 FIFA World Cup by conquering not one but two champions in their group.
Making a brilliant comeback beating Spain, the Japan win automatically knocked out Germany.
The 2014 World Cup champions, who had high hopes of making it to the finals were stunningly eliminated from the tournament before the round of 16 for the second time in a row.
Japan’s underdog efforts showcased that the levels of football teams are changing balance, with Asian teams catching up to the European-based teams.
First World Cup in the Middle East
The world’s most prestigious sporting event being held in the Middle East for the first time was a landmark achievement within itself as it highlighted Western double standards.
From the moment Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010, the Gulf State relentlessly defended itself against critics up until the opening of the tournament.
The wave of scrutiny has changed in the 12-year stretch, going from criticizing the country’s geographically small size, hot climate, and treatment of migrant workers.
Despite the country’s efforts to reform its legislation to address the concerns, like dismantling the controversial Kafala, or sponsorship, system, which previously didn’t allow employees to freely switch jobs, nothing was enough to get applause from Western viewers.
Case standards of hypocrisy were called out leading up to the tournament, one example being the French prohibition of broadcast games in protest of environmental and human rights abuses in Qatar.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy called out the performative decision by his country officials, stating Qatar should be given a fair chance.
“Football does not only belong to Westerners, whether they are French, English, Italian or American,” said Sarkozy to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
“It is a sport that brings people together. I note that all the countries that have organised major international events in recent years have been the subject of much controversy: China, Russia, Brazil, and now Qatar”, the Former French President added.
Whether it was truly about human rights or the fact that an Arab Middle Eastern country was hosting the World Cup became the rhetorical question asked to Western officials and media publications by Qatari officials.
Former Foreign Minister, now Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that some of the criticism against Qatar’s hosting was racist and arrogant.
Speaking to a German newspaper ahead of the World Cup, the Qatari official voiced, “Why do you think Qatar is so controversial as an organizer? The tone is sharper than with Russia four years ago, which already occupied Crimea at that time and bombed civilians in Syria.”
“It seems difficult for some to accept that a small country, a small Arab country, is allowed to host the Football World Cup. Racist clichés also appear again and again. But that’s not the case everywhere for a long time. There are fewer than ten countries from which such sharp criticism comes. The rest of the world is happy with us. 97 percent of the tickets have already been sold. That’s a clear sign,” he added.
Nearly 3 million tickets were sold for the World Cup, with the United States being the second most purchaser of the Qatari tournament.