2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar - Controversies, Upsets & Messi's Triumph
The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
The 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup was held in Qatar from November 20th to December 18th. This was the first time that the tournament, which takes place every four years, was held in the Middle East. The World Cup is one of the most watched sporting events globally with over 3.5 billion viewers tuning in to the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Controversy Over Qatar As Host
Ever since Qatar was named as host in 2010, the decision has been shrouded in controversy. Qatar has faced allegations of bribery, human rights violations, and unsuitable weather conditions to host the cup. Summers in Qatar can be dangerously hot with temperatures reaching well over 100°F (38°C). As a result, the tournament had to be moved from its typical June-July time slot to late November-December.
First Winter World Cup
The 2022 World Cup was the first edition not held during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere. By shifting to late November-December, players and fans avoided the worst of the Middle Eastern heat, but it did significantly disrupt the European domestic league schedules. Leagues had to impose a long midseason break to accommodate international players heading to Qatar.
Controversies Over Human Rights
Ever since being named host, Qatar has faced intense criticism over its treatment of migrant workers as well as its stance on LGBTQ rights. Hundreds of migrants have died during the construction of World Cup infrastructure due to unsafe working conditions according to human rights groups. Additionally, same-sex relationships remain criminalized in Qatar sparking outrage among activists. FIFA and Qatari officials have sought to reassure LGBTQ fans that they are welcome despite stringent local laws.
The World Cup Stadiums
This World Cup broke with tradition and was played across only eight stadiums all located within and around the capital city of Doha. Previous tournaments have been spread across far larger host nations and featured a dozen or more stadiums. The eight state-of-the-art stadiums newly built for 2022 were:
- Lusail Iconic Stadium
- Al Janoub Stadium
- Stadium 974
- Al Thumama Stadium
- Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
- Al Bayt Stadium
- Khalifa International Stadium
- Education City Stadium
The stadiums implemented innovative design elements to withstand Qatar's desert climate. For example, Stadium 974 was constructed using old shipping containers that will be completely dismantled after the tournament. Others feature retractable roofs or innovative open-air cooling technology so players and fans could be comfortable despite the outside heat.
After The Tournament
A main criticism facing Qatar is what will happen to this infrastructure after the event concludes. Luckily, plans were developed early on to repurpose most stadiums as community sporting facilities, hotels, shops, and other public spaces. Only Stadium 974 is set to be dismantled.
The Group Stage
After years of qualifying matches around the world, 32 teams descended on Qatar in November for the group stage. 8 groups of 4 teams competed in a round robin tournament to determine who would advance.
The group round was not without some major surprises and memorable events including:
- Defending champions France suffered a shocking loss to Tunisia
- World Cup newcomer Saudi Arabia defeated heavily favored Argentina
- All teams took a knee before matches in a collective stand against discrimination
- Brazil and Portugal qualified over their group competitors with 2 matches to spare
After each team played three grueling matches, sixteen total moved on to the knockout round. These were:
- South Korea
The Knockout Round
Beginning December 3rd, the 16 remaining teams began direct knockout matches, with winners advancing and losers eliminated. Extra periods of overtimes and tense penalty shootouts quickly became the norm.
After some early upsets, including Spain and Brazil losing on penalties, the quarterfinals were:
- Croatia vs. Brazil
- Netherlands vs. Argentina
- Morocco vs. Portugal
- England vs. France
Semifinals Taking Shape
In two intense semifinal matchups, the stage was set for a surprising yet intriguing final:
- Argentina vs. Croatia
- France vs. Morocco
World Cup Final
On December 18th at Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lionel Messi finally achieved his dream of winning a World Cup for Argentina. La Albiceleste beat Mbappé and the reigning champions France 4-2 on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 draw.
It was a match for the ages featuring:
- Messi opening the scoring in the first half
- A brace from Mbappé to put France ahead
- Two late goals from Argentina to equalize
- Over 100 minutes of tense football with two world class teams
- Emotional celebrations from Messi as he won the trophy that had always eluded him
In the end, fans witnessed arguably the greatest edition in the tournament's 92-year history. Qatar faced immense criticism but ultimately hosted a successful, fan-friendly, and competitive World Cup. And Lionel Messi cemented his legacy as an all-time great by lifting the trophy for his homeland.
Why was the 2022 World Cup controversial?
The 2022 World Cup was controversial because of Qatar's human rights record, treatment of migrant workers, extremely hot summers, and laws against LGBTQ people.
What teams made it to the final?
The final was between reigning champions France and South American powerhouse Argentina.
Who won the 2022 World Cup?
Argentina won the final over France after a dramatic 3-3 draw and a 4-2 penalty shootout. It was their first World Cup title since 1986.
Where was the 2022 final played?
The final was played at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar on December 18, 2022.
Who was named the best player of the 2022 World Cup?
Argentina captain Lionel Messi was named the best player of the tournament. At age 35, it was his first ever World Cup trophy.
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