World Cup host Qatar: Sports master plan threatens to fail

World Cup host Qatar: Sports master plan threatens to fail

Status: 09/28/2022 5:07 PM

Qatar could become the weakest host in World Cup history, despite huge investments in training camps and three months of isolation.

The domestic World Cup should be the start of a bright football future for Qatar. No stone left unturned: Since 2004, the country’s most promising talent has been systematically tracked and promoted at the ultra-modern Aspire Academy in Doha.

Because only 300,000 of Qatar’s 2.7 million residents are Qatari citizens, the Football Association also looked overseas for talented people, mainly in Africa, in hopes of naturalization and the right to play soon.

And that’s not all: since the domestic league, the Qatar Stars League, does not meet international standards, Aspire Academy also bought a European First Division club in 2012 along with KAS Eupen. In the Belgian provinces, the best academy talents are expected to make the leap to professional football and play for scouts from top clubs.

Qatar becomes Asian Champion 2019

The million-dollar master plan initially bore fruit. A Test match win against Switzerland in 2018 grabbed public attention, followed by a title win at the Asian Championship in 2019. Qatar has meanwhile moved up to 42nd place in the FIFA world rankings – nearly 40 places higher than the long-term average.

But after that, the team stabilized and now needs to be in shape with an intensive training camp for the World Cup starting on November 20. For more than three months, Spanish coach Felix Sánchez worked with his squad in Spain and Austria, shielded from the public.

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Poor performance against Canada

The team returned to the public with only the two most recent friendships in Austria – with a stellar performance. Against Canada on Friday (09/23/2022) 0:2 was flattering, the Canadians were at least a class better. Tuesday’s 2-2 against Chile was a respectable success, although Chile missed a penalty.

Qatar’s Akram Afif (right) in the game against Chile

Image: GEPA Pictures/Imago

It seems that intense training work cannot replace a lack of match practice. All national players in the Qatar League are under contract, they do not have duets with top international teams. In addition, there is a lack of individual class.

Akram Afif as a ray of hope

The biggest hope is 24-year-old winger Akram Afif, who has built a career according to the master plan: trained at Aspire Academy, European success at KAS Eupen, gained experience at FC Villarreal and Sporting Gijón, then returned to the Qatar League in 2018.

Aspire Academy in Doha, Qatar

Image: Mohamed Dubos/Reuters

Another player with potential is Almoez Abdullah (26), who was discovered in Sudan by Qataris and brought to Aspire Academy. When the attacker won the Asian Cup semi-final with Qatar in 2019, his opponents, the United Arab Emirates, appealed. Abdullah and his teammate, Bassam al-Ravi, a native of Iraq, were not allowed to play. Abdullah received a hint that his mother was born in Qatar.

high barriers to eligibility

FIFA law sets strict rules for a player playing for a country in which he was not born. The law prevented Qatar from putting together a world selection, as Emirates did with handball, for example. In 2015, the Qatari handball player became the Vice World Champion in his own country.

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Football players seem to be far away from this at the moment. Despite the many natural players, Qatar does not inspire fear in competition. Thus can shake a negative record: so far, South Africa is the weakest host of the Football World Cup in terms of games, but still managed to draw against Mexico (1-1) and a sensational victory against France ( 2-1) when they lost in the preliminary round in 2010.

criticism of human rights violations

Qatar and its controversial home World Cup: Politically, the damage to the image is already enormous as poor conditions for guest workers, homosexual harassment and other human rights violations are being criticized around the world.

Now a sporting nuisance is being threatened. Qatar need four points in Group A along with Ecuador, Senegal and the Netherlands.


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