Why did Qatar even want the World Cup?

It looks like quite a number of Qatar fans left early during their 2-0 loss to Ecuador.

It looks like quite a number of Qatar fans left early during their 2-0 loss to Ecuador. Image: Getty Images

The small Middle Eastern country – known for its poor human rights record – is hosting the World Cup, but did Qatar actually WANT it from the start? Whatever government official was responsible for bringing the world’s greatest sporting event to their country must have wanted enough to take the initiative, but local enthusiasm for the event seems lacking.

The host country had never qualified for a World Cup before, but automatically received a bid to host the World Cup within its borders and had its first tournament game on Sunday. Twelve years of controversy and anticipation for this moment as the world watched the only game on the opening day of the tournament saw Qatari fans leave at half-time.

I can’t imagine any other country in the world whose fans would do that. Think back to 2014 and how passionate the Brazilian fans were. Now imagine if it were Brazil’s first World Cup appearance. Do you think the fans would leave just because the team lost? No, fans would likely be in their seats long after the janitors finished sweeping the floors. Those fans stayed and watched in tears as Germany defeated the Seleção Canarinho 7-1 in the semifinals. There were many reasons why Brazil shouldn’t have hosted the tournament either, but it was clear that a lot of people wanted it.

Qatar is the first country to make its World Cup debut as hosts since Italy in 1934. Ironically, Italy was the only host country to ever have to qualify. Not only did the Italians qualify, but the Azuri won the whole thing.

Spoiler alert: Qatar will not win this World Cup. Hell, Qatar has no place in this tournament.

The quality of the team and the indifference of the fans both indicate that everyone already knew that this would be one of the last places this event would take place. How’s that for a contribution to the discourse? Just wait till you hear how I think they got it. Money may have changed hands despite Qatar denying allegations of bribery.

Putting aside the bigoted government and terrible human rights record, it still doesn’t make sense. The 2026 World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, three countries that already have the infrastructure needed to host it. No new stadiums will be built and only one US stadium (Arrowhead Stadium) needs upgrading. This should significantly reduce the number of construction worker deaths, of which there were an estimated 6,500 in preparation for the tournament in Qatar.

It’s absurdly disrespectful to bribe yourself into hosting the event, let thousands die building the stadiums, and then almost empty those same stadiums during the game as if you were Texas A&M fans.

At the opening ceremony, every home video they could find of the country’s football-playing princes showed that they do indeed have a “football culture”. Nobody is happy that the World Cup is here and that apparently includes the people of Qatar. If the Arab nation really didn’t want it, it seems they only bought it because it could.