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Qatar World Cup 2022
Is this the quietest build up to a major tournament ever?
The absolute catastrophe that is Qatar 2022 is upon us. Even if you ignore the human rights and migrant workers issues, it has been a car crash since the vote in 2010 made Qatar the 2022 host nation. Corruption was at the heart of their winning bid.
Whether it was paying to set up football academies in notorious football hotbeds Thailand and Guatemala to secure the votes from those nations’ FAs, buying the French President’s favourite football club Paris Saint Germain or creating a state owned television company, beIN Sport, to buy the television rights - at inflated prices - for the top European leagues, the Qatari’s pulled no punches in trying to ensure the World Cup would be held in the Middle East for the first time.
Needless to say, it worked. 11 of the 20 FIFA officials who voted for the Qatar bid have been sacked in disgrace, suspended or banned for life from being involved in football, due to the corruption surrounding the bid but still it has gone ahead. So, here we are.
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It’s hard to get excited about a World Cup in the middle of a domestic season and during the winter. I feel like the usual anticipation has been curtailed by moving it to November. It’s safe to say we won’t be watching any games in beer gardens.
This could all work in England’s favour though. How many tournaments have we gone into where the nation is expecting greatness, only for us to be leaving with our tail between our legs, sometimes before the knock out stages?
England are boring to watch at times and one of Southgate’s biggest problems is not allowing creative players the freedom to play their game. He would rather boring players, playing boring football. No personality, just stick to the game plan. I would take a boring World Cup win though!
We came very close against Italy at Euro 21. But in a final where we took the lead, negative tactics meant we always looked like we were holding on rather than actually controlling the game. With that performance in the minds of fans and the lack of build up, the expectations seem lower than they were last year. Add to that, teams from the whole world are competing, rather than just Europe and it leaves England just outside of the ‘favourites’ spot.
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England are 3rd favourites with the bookies, which seems outrageous given the quality of the teams involved. I suppose checking the odds on British sites will provide bias data, as undoubtedly there will be a lot of money on England shortening the prices. But we do have a team to compete.
All eyes will be on Khalifa International Stadium for England’s first game of the tournament against Iran. The time and the desert heat will be a big hurdle for England to overcome and their opponents will be better suited to the conditions. If England can start strong with a good, confident performance, our final two group games, against USA and Wales kick off at 19:00, providing cooler temperatures and will help us build on that.
If England end up winning the World Cup, watching with a Cup-a-Soup rather than an ice cold pint will be a small price to pay.
Written by Tomas Browne
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