Countdown to a week Globalism The Cup tournament kicked off in Qatar on Monday as the world’s leading footballers focused their attention on one of the most controversial tournaments in history.
After the final weekend of work, the local tournaments pause for six weeks to allow for a tournament, but the preparation time is short for the teams.
The first World Cup to be held in the Arab world kicks off on Sunday when it faces host nation Ecuador.
Organizing a great football event in a desert country necessitated an unprecedented reorganization of the international football calendar, which led to the transfer of the World Cup from its normal place in the northern hemisphere in summer to avoid the scorching Gulf heat.
Three players expected to be the biggest names in the tournament – Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe – emerged unscathed from Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 victory over Auxerre in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
Mbappe, who will lead France’s title defense in Qatar, struck in style by scoring PSG’s opening goal.
Teams must submit their final squad lists on Monday.
Iran has named Sardar Azmoun, its star who has expressed support for the demonstrations in his homeland, in its final 25-man squad.
Azmoun, who plays for German club Bayer Leverkusen, posted several messages on social media in support of the protests that erupted after the death of 22-year-old Mohsa Amini. Hundreds were killed in the unrest.
Activists called on fans attending Iran’s matches in Qatar to chant Amini’s name.
Sunday’s kick-off marks the culmination of Qatar’s extraordinary campaign to first win the relegation vote in the tournament, and then embark on spending tens of billions of dollars building stadiums and infrastructure.
FIFA’s calls to “focus on football” have struggled to be heard as the countdown to kick-off has heightened scrutiny of the Gulf state’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBT community.
South Asian workers have been at the center of an often acrimonious dispute over deaths, injuries and their working conditions since Qatar won the World Cup in 2010.
Amnesty International made an urgent appeal on Friday to FIFA President Gianni Infantino to commit to a compensation package for the workers who built the tournament’s glittering stadiums.
Qatar angrily rejected most of the attacks and local media criticized the “arrogance” of some Western countries.
Sophia Stone, a Briton living in Doha, said the negative press was unfair.
“I’m not going to listen to everything you hear on the news. If you really want to have an opinion on that, come to Qatar and see for yourself. From what I’m reading, it’s not like that at all. It’s very open and welcoming,” she told AFP.
The country of three million people, one of the world’s largest producers of natural gas, has spent lavishly.
The new stadiums cost more than $6.5 billion and a $36 billion driverless metro system serves five of the eight stadiums.
Some estimates put total infrastructure spending over the past decade at $200 billion.
Organizers expected more than a million fans to travel to Qatar and responded to concerns about a lack of accommodation by using three cruise ships as floating hotels. They were fully booked for the first two weeks of the tournament.
Organizers say 2.9 million of the 3.1 million tickets have been sold and fans have been waiting outside the FIFA Ticket Center in the hope that rare tickets will become available for the most important matches.
Qatar announced its first arrests in World Cup ticket sales, on Monday, with three foreign men being held outside official ticket sales centers in Doha. No details were provided about their nationality.
In Europe, there is a deep sense of unease with a country where there is no tradition of football hosting the tournament.
Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm said on Sunday that Qatar should not have been allowed to host the World Cup because of human rights violations.
“It was a mistake to award the World Cup to Qatar. It does not belong there,” Lahm wrote in a column in Die Zeit newspaper.
Lufthansa said that a plane marked “#DiversityWins!” She will lead the Germany team to their World Cup campaign.
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