How do you get excited about the World Cup 2022 in Qatar?

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We’re in the midst of the strangest World Cup of all time and try as I might I just cannot get into it.

There is just something intrinsically summery about the World Cup, of course it’s what we’re all used to, but it should be a time for celebration and for people to come together with no restriction – get yourself outside in the sun, with kids around caught up in the excitement and take it all in. But this World Cup is the most restrictive in history, in more ways than one.

The summer and winter thing is minor, would I rather be out in the sunshine watching the games? Yes. Is it less fun curling up for warmth as the cold sets in in the middle of a cost of living crisis? Absolutely, granted the second part is hardly Qatar’s fault.

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But as the tournament began to gather pace the mask slipped a little bit in the Middle East and rainbow t-shirts and hats were prevented from entering stadia. If anything is known for causing trouble it is an item of clothing containing an assortment of colours, next they will want to give people back the screw on top from drinks bottles…

Harry Kane didn't wear the 'One Love' armband in England's opening game of the World Cup against IranHarry Kane didn't wear the 'One Love' armband in England's opening game of the World Cup against Iran
Harry Kane didn't wear the 'One Love' armband in England's opening game of the World Cup against Iran

The point is obviously that they show support for the LGBTQ+ community that are quite simply not allowed to exist in the Middle East. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar but the host nation had said previously that everyone is welcome as the World Cup is a tournament for the world, after all.

FIFA, the governing body of world football, those3 at the top of the biggest sport in the world, are entirely complicit. Their approach was to threaten captains of nations planning to show their support to the LGBTQ+ community with a yellow card before the game even got going, which nations couldn’t risk. It would have been powerful for them to have taken their punishment and really showed FIFA up, but as Gareth Bale found out when picking up a caution for a slide tackle, it wasn’t worth the risk in footballing terms in the end.

It is quite widely accepted now that Qatar did not get to host the World Cup by the usual methods, it has proved quite costly for them. Not only are they completely out of favour with the rest of the world but they have spent around $10bn on building the stadia for the tournament, contributed to the largest carbon event in history and there are reports that thousands of migrants have died in building the sham.

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All it has really done is highlight the corruption that is commonplace in modern society, with some previous officials of FIFA now banned for their part in some of the governing body’s decisions.

Aside from the country’s terrible human rights records, Qatar was and is simply not ready for a World Cup. They have built everything from scratch, fine, but with that comes no history.

There is not the appetite for the sport, aside from those bankrolling it, and with all the exclusion there are fewer fans from around the world that are keen, or feel safe, to go.

It is shown in how many empty seats there are at every single game.

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Perhaps I’m a bit tired from a gruelling Championship schedule that was put in place to allow for the World Cup to be played midway through the season, but the spectacle and magic of the World Cup just isn’t quite the same this time around.