World Cup 2022: Tournament in Qatar set to get under way

World Cup 2022: Tournament in Qatar set to get under way

Today’s BBC (my number one go to place for sport) lead article regarding the Football World Cup, starting today, begins:

“After 12 years of questions, criticisms and conjecture, the Fifa World Cup in Qatar will finally get under way on Sunday. The build-up to the first tournament to be held in a Muslim country in the Middle East has been overshadowed by a number of controversies. But Fifa has asked all 32 competing nations to “focus on the football” and hosts Qatar will kick off the tournament against Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium (16:00 GMT)”.

I have loved the beautiful game (football) and have had some sort of involvement for much of my life. I have played it from when along with kids in my local neighborhood in the park (or road) to with colleagues at college and in the workplace (enthusiastically but limited skilled wise but preferring the game played at grass roots level), watched it (all levels – I still follow Southend United and am, at best, mildly interested in the fortunes of the big named clubs), refereed many, mainly friendly, games (I was examined by someone who had refereed an FA Cup Final to get my basic qualification), encouraged others to play (typically children, youth and community groups) and have organised football tournaments and events.

The pinnacle of all that football interest is the World Cup, which comes round every four years. While aware of the 1962 tournament in Chile (but little media coverage), I began following earnestly World Cups as a fifteen-year-old, in 1966, when held in England and England won it! I have done so ever since, albeit less enthusiastically in recent years. It has long seemed to me that the World Cup should bring together the best teams playing against each other, while at their best, in conditions conducive to good football, with everything done to ensure footballing excellence, played in the right spirit and with the best team winning. I have come to a view that commercial interests have taken over far too much and too often good sides come under prepared. This is so with the current tournament, taking place in the middle of the domestic season for the top clubs, who will not release their players (because of the weather in Qatar is cooler then), and Qatar, a country that has little football heritage and in a day when the England team take their BLM knee, their poor human rights record, and being the hosts because, as so often, money talks.

I know (and care) little (compared with those early years when I followed the World Cup avidly) about the teams who are playing in this tournament, including the English team. I daresay, I will be following it (including today’s opener), but a lot less so than once was the case. My hope still is that football will be the winner and the best team will win (and hopefully, for me, it will be an African one).


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