Football fans worldwide have favored Qatar’s World Cup as the greatest tournament in the 21st century
BBC Sport has pushed out a poll breaking down each World Cup of this century, with Qatar’s 2022 tournament dominating the leaderboard by 78% by football fans.
Far behind Qatar was the 2002 World Cup at 6%, the 2014 tournament at 5%, and 2006, 2010, and 2018 at the rope’s end.
The results come despite the BBC choosing to shun the opening ceremony of the World Cup, instead launching a tirade of attacks against Qatar’s human rights record, in a move that saw the BBC receive major backlash from football fans in the UK.
For more reasons than one, Qatar delivered a football legacy that ended with Lionel Messi earning his World Cup glory by defeating a contesting France squad 3-2 on penalties.
Several groundbreaking moments were struck in the small peninsula as Morocco became the first African and Arab team to go to the semi-finals.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino and several other sporting actors anointed the tournament as the best ever due to the diversity and inclusion of the game.
“Many people from around the world have come to Qatar and have discovered the Arab world, which they didn’t know or they knew only for what was portrayed to them,” the FIFA boss told reporters.
2002 World Cup
The 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, decorated Brazil with its fifth championship and featured underdogs tackling football giants as Turkey and co-hosts South Korea reached the semi-finals.
The last World Cup to feature the golden goal rule showcased China, Ecuador, Senegal, and Slovenia make their FIFA debuts.
Senegal stunned France in a 1-0 match, which commentators described as the greatest football upset of all time.
2006 World Cup
The 2006 World Cup stands as one of the most-watched events in television history. It pulled in an average audience of 260 million, with a final view of 603 million.
Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo made their debut in the World Cup, with both players scoring their first goal in the tournament.
Yet, what captivated audiences was Italy defeating France in a match that will always be recalled for Zinedine Zidane’s red card for headbutting Marco Materazzi in his last game before retiring.
2010 World Cup
South Africa 2010 was unique because it was the first time an African nation hosted the tournament, and Spain won its first title in history.
Headlined by Shakira’s song Waka Waka, which has notably become the finest World Cup song, South Africa’s tournament was remembered for its effect on the world.
The late Mandela made an appearance during the closing ceremony, granting the chants of thousands at Soccer City stadium.
2014 World Cup
Becoming the second time that Brazil staged the competition – the first being in 1950 – the 2014 tournament ended with a fateful climax for millions of Brazilians.
However, the semi-final match was disastrous for hosts Brazil with Germany denouncing the team 7-1, rimming the Germans into the finals.
In the final, Germany defeated Messi’s Argentina 1–0 after extra time thanks to a Mario Gotze half-volley in the 113th minute of the game to win the contest and secure the country’s fourth world crown, the first after the German reunification in the 1990s.
2018 World Cup
It was estimated that more than 3 million people attended games during the 2018 tournament, leaving a monumental footprint in Russia.
An 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe became a household name after leading his team to defeat Croatia 4-2 in the finals.
Remarkably England’s Harry Kane won the Golden Boot, with his team defeating Colombia in a penalty shootout.