Qatar lost 2-0 to Ecuador in the World Cup opener. Qatar made embarrassing history at the FIFA World Cup. Qatar became the first host ever to lose their opening World Cup match. In the end, they were lucky to lose to Ecuador by only two goals.
They had no answer to the South Americans' physicality and power and were second best all over the field.
The Gap between Qatar and Ecuador in the FIFA Rankings
Ecuador is 44th in the world according to the latest FIFA world rankings, while Qatar is 50th - and what should have been a close match - turned out to be a complete mismatch.
It also suggests that if Qatar had not been controversially chosen to host the World Cup, they would never have qualified.
It's their first game in a World Cup final and although they still have two games to play, Senegal and the Netherlands, it could well be their last for a while.
Even if the World Cup expands to 48 teams four years later, with the United States, Canada, and Mexico sharing the hosting rights, it's hard to believe Qatar's football will improve enough to be a serious World Cup contender. Qualifying in Asia.
Qatar's Loss to Ecuador was Destined to Happen
The loss also meant the decision to move the game up a day backfired. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Monday, but FIFA was persuaded by Qatar to move it up 24 hours so Qatar's soccer team could have its own global stage.
In fact, Qatar's World Cup dreams appeared to be over within 160 seconds of kick-off. That's how long it took Enna Valencia to put Ecuador ahead before VAR ruled him offside. Most TV viewers are baffled because Target looks so perfect, even on repeated viewings.
However, this is only a temporary reprieve. Qatar's goalkeeper Saad Al-Hib had already made several saves in the box where he knocked down Valencia, and this time the decision was uncontroversial. Former West Ham striker Valencia patted the dust off his body and calmly took the penalty.
Fifteen minutes later, Valencia scored again, this time with a header well past Al Hieb, leaving the hosts with nowhere to go. They didn't shoot on target the whole game and could have added more goals if Ecuador had been better with the last ball.
More negativity for the hosts
It meant that what had meant to be a party to celebrate Qatar hosting the biggest tournament on the planet had turned flat, and that prompted a mass walk-out of fans at half-time.
It had transpired that organizers had paid for some of them to be there in the first place, paying for their travel and lodging and giving them money to attend the match, although some had already backed out when the promised sums were not paid over.
It also raises questions about the enthusiasm for the event among the general population of less than three million, with a little history as a footballing nation. Whatever illusions they have had about the quality of their national team before the match, the inescapable conclusion after it is that they are just not very good at football.
Sponsors to cause headache for FIFA
Although Qatar is not a dry country, it suddenly decided to ban the sale of alcohol in the stadium twice before the start of the World Cup. This violates previously stated policy and most people in the venue will not be affected.
While the reversal was apparently at the behest of the Qatari royal family, it has already cost FIFA $75 million in legal fees and strained relations with Budweiser, one of its main sponsors.
Will FIFA regret their post-World Cup decisions?
That raised the real prospect of playing in front of half-empty stands, where the atmosphere was lackluster throughout the rest of the game. Considering how the average Qatari seems to lose interest when their own team underperforms, it's hard to see them bothering to watch a game that doesn't concern them.
FIFA will never admit it publicly, but even now they must be regretting their decision to award the World Cup to Qatar. Even disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is now describing the decision as a mistake, and this time his words need to be taken seriously.
Blatter's reasoning has nothing to do with issues surrounding the treatment of migrant workers, the Gulf kingdom's human rights record or its discrimination against the LGBTQ community, which dominated much of the discussion leading up to the election.
Instead, his argument is that Qatar, with a population of less than 3 million, is too small to sustain such a global event.
Of course, it is the smallest country ever awarded the right to host. The only rival is Uruguay, which hosted the first World Cup in 1930. But there were only 13 teams participating in that World Cup, and it was not a global event at that time, so my prize money was in the billions. And Uruguay is also a country that equates football with the state religion.
The only event in Asia, jointly organized by Japan and South Korea, with a total population of 176 million. This is in line with recent tournaments - Brazil (214 million), Russia (143 million) and the US, Mexico, Canada with a combined population of 500 million.
That doesn't mean FIFA's Gianni Infantino's commitment to taking the World Cup to new territory is necessarily flawed. It should not only belong to European and South American countries, which can have a richer football history.
Still, other Arab and Middle Eastern nations would back a tournament of this size.
Organizers hope that some of the larger countries will provide enough travel support to help fill the venues where they will be competing, but there must be concern that some races involving some of the smaller countries will now be ahead of only a few thousand people.
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