The Qatar World Cup Hangover?

Qatar World Cup

The first World Cup to be hosted in the Middle-East, but also arguably the most controversial and corrupt. It was also supposed to open up the country, as well as help develop football. Sven months on though was it a success, or is there now a Qatar World Cup hangover?

To read about the World Cup in Qatar click here.

The Dirty Road to the World Cup.

Qatar getting the right to host the World Cup was undoubtedly a corrupt affair, with it leading to the downfall of the rich ruling illuminati of the sport.

These included now former FIFA head Sepp Blatter, as well legendary footballer Michel Platini then of UEFA. Changes were made, but brand FIFA took such a beating it is unlikely to ever be trusted again.

And of course the controversy quite simply did nit stop. From a sporting point if view we were promised impossible outdoor air conditioning, but instead got a World Cup moved to winter and global leagues screwed quite literally for years.

Of more concern perhaps were also the tales of migrants dying at huge rates to make the stadiums, as well their treatment as a whole.

When the tournament eventually came around the controversy joined the ride again. This time it was LGBTQ+ plus rights and even drinking in stadiums. At times both sides had points, as well as both seem inning to pick on each other.

Most amusing perhaps was the England team and others promising to wear gay pride armbands only to bottle out at the last minute. Why oh why do they have to keep mixing football;; and politics?

In the end though the tournament was a success for the most part, but has there been a world cup hangover?

The Qatar World Cup Hangover

Speaking about the legacy to a local, who asked to be called Mohammed, I was told the following “It was like nothing we had ever seen, there were foreigners everywhere and they were so friendly. Contrary to what people thought people were allowed to drink and there were no actual issues with the LGBT community. I really miss those times”.

Indeed there was a kind of opening up of Qatar, but for the most part this was now over, with Mohammaed pouting to the many cars on the road and saying “This is what we do for fun, we drive, during the World Cup it was different”.

Maryam who was less a fan of the football, but more a fan of the vibe largely agreed “This is a great country in so many ways, it is so safe we do not even lock cars, but aside from malls the main thing we do for fun is travel out of Qatar”.

The end of the cup also saw an exodus of foreigners, perhaps up to 23 percent according too some figures. At one in 4 this was definitely a Qatar World Cup hangover according to our local sources.

Did the Qatar World Cup achieve sports washing?

Sports washing is another one of those words you didn’t ever hear before, but now seem to be thrown about at will. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been doing it a while, before the spotlight was moved to Qatar. Of course right now it is the turn of the flying circus that is the Saudi Pro League.

Did hosting the world cup work to clean Qatar though? In some respects it actually did. Before the games there were quite literally tourists and now there are, with agencies even popping up and touting for customers.

The museums have people in them and there are foreign faces in the main souk and a kind of travel industry has started. Of course it will unlikely be a huge influx, but it is nice and. It is safe. Could it be an alternative to Dubai? Well if the largely popular Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is prepared to further loosen up the reigns then just maybe.

A Qatar World Cup Hangover in football

From the football side results have also been mixed. For a country of just 2.7 million people (mostly expats) the nation now has far too many stadiums, some of which are being taken down as we speak.

The World Cup will not though be the last completion to be hosted here though, with the 2023 quadrennial Asian Confederation Cup also being held in Qatar after it was moved from China due to concerns about Covid (remember that).

It will though actually be the third time the country has hosted the tournament, with it also running the 1988, and 2011 competitions. Much like the previous world cup though the cup has been moved to January/February of 2024 due to the heat, as well as the controversial choice to invite Qatar to the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be hosted in the United States and Canada. Qatar were invited despite having the worst footballing record of world cup hosts in the entire off the competition.

The poor results of the national team were also a point of concern, with there even being accusations of (failed) bribery. Qatar not only failed to gain a point, but were far from seen as “representing the Middle-East”. I personally watched the opening match in Sudan, where the locals told me they were supporting “anyone but Qatar”.

You can read about that here.

Domestic football in Qatar

The Q-League was rebranded to the Qatari Stars League in 2009, converted to two divisions and relatively large sums of money were invested into the competition. This was again supposed to be part of the ongoing legacy of the World Cup.

Sadly this has largely not occurred with attendances ranging from 2000 to 10000 in the top-tier, although with a population of just 2.7 million, attendances are really not all that bad.

The country have managed just two AFC Champions League wins, both by Al Sadd, although the last was in 2011, way before the world cup was hosted. Local clubs though are far from minnows in the competition though.

Yet both clubs and the Qatari state are trying to invest in and bring young foreign stars to the country, with Cambodian Sieng Chanthea being one of the latest surprise signings in the country.

To read about football in Nauru click here.

Yet sadly this ambition has now largely been dwarfed by the billions now being invested into the charade that is the Saudi Pro League, with the overall consensus being that it is now probably too little too late.

Qataris on the whole though are proud that they managed to not only host the world cup, but also to be the first country within the Middle-East to do so. Something even the controversy cannot take away from them.

And they now have a functioning Doha Metro that can get you to the airport in super fast time. But as Mohammed put it himself “most people here have cars and prefer to drive. Gas here is cheap”.

So, yes there is a legacy, but for now it is mixed at best. Yet perhaps and while they would never admit it, was the forward thinking of Qatar that has impaired Saudi in their quest to not only create a “Super League”, but also host the games in 2030. Perhaps the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will even allow alcohol by then…..