Wednesday, April 17, 2024
HomeOther CountriesMalaysiaDespair over desert dust-up could end in joy - Free Malaysia Today

Despair over desert dust-up could end in joy – Free Malaysia Today

Five reasons World Cup shouldn’t be in Qatar
1. The way it was awarded
The double vote itself felt like an ambush and football walked right into it. Fifa’s exco committee rubbed its grubby hands in glee and Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) took full advantage.
And so a tiny state with one stadium, no football pedigree, and a climate deemed “dangerous”, defeated the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia. It could only have been by one method.
Qatar denies wrongdoing and nothing has been proved but the whistleblower is still being protected and Fifa has imploded. And a would-be summer extravaganza has turned into a winter of discontent.
2. The cost
At US$300 billion, it’s more than the previous 21 World Cups combined. Much of it has gone on infrastructure, including a new metro, but the seven new – and one refurbished – stadiums shimmer like giant flying saucers in the sun.
They may be air-conditioned but can’t cool all the hot air about the epic waste of money. Most will only stage a handful of games and be dismantled afterwards.
A tragically short life span at half a billion apiece. That’s not all. A hotel shortage means many visitors will fly in and out every day – turning the carbon footprint into a carbon stomp. Even with this level of spending, they still can’t make the place suitable.
3. Players’ health still endangered
Due to searing summer heat that an evaluation report highlighted but which Fifa ignored, the tournament has been shifted to the middle of the European club season. Besides distorting club seasons, it’s still a risk to players’ health.
The reduced preparation and recovery times – down to a week from the customary month either side of the tournament – mean players are more prone to injuries.
And if they are crocked, they’re likely to miss out – for many, the chance of a lifetime. Exhibit A: Sadio Mane. Senegal’s superstar who’s injury has all but scuppered their chances of being the first African winner.
4. The baggage
6,500 deaths might be a stat from a battlefield – or a pandemic. But this tally, according to a Guardian investigation in 2021 – was the number who died building football stadiums, most of which won’t be used for long.
Qatar disputed it – as they have every allegation – but they did improve the lot of migrant workers afterwards. But the mainly South Asian migrants are still paid a pittance and live in dire conditions.
Then there’s the intolerance to the LGBTQ+ community, lack of freedom of speech and alcohol – everything to poop a party.
5. Lack of legacy
World Cups normally leave the host nation with a legacy. So that even if they’ve cost a bomb, there are stadiums, academies springing up and newly-inspired generations growing up.
To be fair to Qatar, its Aspire programme is a wonderful international initiative. But in Qatar itself, with just 330,00 Qataris, there aren’t the numbers to make much difference. Dismantling the stadiums is a sad admission of this.
Five reasons football played could save the World Cup
1. Messi aiming for glorious farewell
As everyone knows, Lionel Messi, now 35, is in his fifth and final World Cup. That the ultimate prize has so far eluded the ultimate player is one of those quirks of football history.
By his own admission, he’s often been a shadow of the player for Argentina that he’s been for his club. But recently that changed: he finally broke his international trophy duck by winning the Copa America against Brazil in 2021.
After a slow start following a traumatic switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, he’s almost back to his best and Argentina are unbeaten in 35 games. Whether the little maestro can land the elusive crown is likely to be the storyline of this World Cup.
2. Ronaldo also needs one – maybe even more
You could argue that CR7 needs it more than Messi – albeit for very different reasons. The Portuguese has never won the World Cup either, but where Messi is on a roll, Ronaldo’s reputation is falling off a cliff.
At 37, he has even less time and may soon not have a club. His fallout with Manchester United is a sad business but this tournament presents him with a chance to show he can still do it.
A few trademark goals could see a switch to a new club in January. Winning the World Cup would be the perfect riposte to his critics. What price a Portugal vs Argentina final?
3. Time for next gen stars to break out
It’s a perfect stage to hand over the baton. As the two golden oldies bow out, a new hungry generation is eager to take over and for some this could be their breakout tournament.
Defending champions France have Real Madrid pair Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelian Tchouamechi to take over from Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante; Spain fields the two Barcelona teens Gavi and Pedri in midfield – possible successors to Xavi and Iniesta, while England has the complete midfielder in Jude Bellingham.
Germany has Jamal Musiala, Japan Takefusa Kubo. Australia has two kids, Awer Mabil and Garang Kuol, who started life in refugee camps in Africa. The World Cup always writes its own stories.
4. Open tournament means anybody can win
Despite the sentimental leaning towards Messi and Ronaldo, there’s no clear favourite. The heat will probably hurt the Europeans more which is another reason to lean towards Argentina and Brazil.
France still have lots of firepower while England and Belgium have probably peaked. Germany and Spain are keen to make up for early exits last time. Portugal has Ronaldo – so anything is possible.
5. Small size may big up the atmosphere
Ironically, Qatar’s small size and efficient transport system could make it a good tournament for fans. They’ll be able to watch three or even four games a day whereas at previous World Cups long journeys have been the norm.
So the atmosphere may not depend on shipping in schoolkids or servicemen after all – even if it’s the same people watching.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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