OPINION: Qatar proved that money doesn’t result in beauty

Dec 16, 2022 | OP-ED, Opinion

In just two days the FIFA World Cup will have the final chapter of its 2022 tournament written in the history books as defending champions France look to upset Argentine fans’ dream of watching their captain and hero Lionel Messi lift the glorious prize.

It was a World Cup that was filled with mixed feelings and emotions from both football fans and casual viewers.

Going into the tournament, my expectations were low and doubtful, mainly because it was the first time a World Cup would be held in late fall.

I tried to remain positive, but I just couldn’t build up that thrill and excitement I always had before a World Cup started.

All I wanted to feel was the childhood adrenaline of watching elite football during a warm summer afternoon.

I can confidently say the lack of passion was evident in Canada. During the World Cup, I grew up seeing countless cars with flags of the nation motorists supported flapping above their windows, but that didn’t exist this time out.

A supporter of Morocco reacts at the end of the World Cup semifinal soccer match between France and Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Dec. 14, 2022. France won 2-0.

A supporter of Morocco reacts at the end of the World Cup semifinal soccer match between France and Morocco at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Dec. 14, 2022. France won 2-0. Photo credit: AP Photo/Christophe Ena

There wasn’t a buzz that gave fans a reason to be excited for a mid-season tournament, which was a shame considering the significance of this World Cup is far superior to others.

As Canadians, we got to watch our beloved men’s team represent us on a global stage for the first time in 36 years. It was also the rumoured last dance for many legends, including the colossal giants Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

It is not meant to be an insult to the host nation, but Qatar did not give fans what they craved.

The incredibly expensive prices of traveling to Qatar, the strict laws the nation set for the World Cup and not to mention the stadiums built upon the deaths of migrant workers over the past several years are all reasons which drove fans away from the nation.

There has been suspicion of “paid actors” who pose as fans to compensate for the lack of travellers and the lackluster atmosphere was evident from the beginning.

ESPN reports Qatar spent at least $220 billion on this World Cup, which is more than twice of what the previous eight hosts spent combined.

They call it the beautiful game for a reason and Qatar proved that money doesn’t result in beauty.

I caught myself wondering how on earth there are so many empty seats at a World Cup?

In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil we saw passion and constant singing, in South Africa’s 2010 edition we were amazed by the deafening sounds of the vuvuzela, yet in Qatar, the loudest thing I’ve heard is stadium music.

Looking back at how far we’ve come, I can’t count on one hand how many thrilling games we had because there weren’t many.

Even the quality of goals doesn’t compare to what we’ve been spoiled with in the past, apart from Richarlison’s stunning bicycle kick in Brazil’s opening game.

And sure, who doesn’t love an underdog story where the unexpected unfolds before our eyes, and yes we got to see that this year but perhaps it was too much. Morocco’s defensive style of football and Croatia’s inability to pose any threat to Argentina gave us a very boring duo of semi-final matches.

I do believe this final match is an excellent matchup and it could easily surpass the terrible final we had to watch in Russia 2018. But it does bother me that both teams’ opponents on their way to the final are not one of the World Cup champions, specifically Argentina.

Although I do think Argentina will prevail and defeat France by a score of 1-0 in extra time.