By Anthony Dylan
This year would be the 22nd FIFA World Cup Tournament since it began in 1930. The tournament suspended the 1942 and 1946 due to World War 2. Unlike the others, this World Cup would not be held the middle of the year. The Qatar 2022 World Cup would be held from 21st November 2022 till 18th December 2022. It is also the last World Cup played with 32 teams. The next one in 2026 hosted by Canada, USA and Mexico would feature 48 teams. The 2026 one would be the first with 3 host nations and an expanded participation.
This is the 2nd time that Asia hosted the tournament. The first time Asia hosted was in 2002 and that was also the first time the tournament was held in 2 countries: Japan and South Korea. Brazil’s 5th title was also the last time Brazil won the World Cup. Throughout the last 22 tournaments, only 8 countries ever lifted the trophy. Brazil has won it 5 times and their closest rivals, Germany and Italy have 4 titles each.
The draw for the 2022 World Cup was held in Qatar on 1st April 2022. There are 8 Groups (Group A to Group H). The final draw drew the following:
Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands
England, Iran, United States of America and the Winner of Wales Vs Scotland/Ukraine
Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland
France, Winner of Peru Vs UAE / Australia, Denmark and Tunisia
Spain, Winner of Costa Rica Vs New Zealand, Germany and Japan
Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia
Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon
Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea
As usual, there would be favourites among those listed. Brazil, Argentina, Germany, France, Spain and England would always remain favourites. It is sad that Italy who was recently crowned the European Champions, failed to qualify for this World Cup. Italy is the only past winner missing in this tournament. Would we see a new winner in this year’s edition to add to the stable of eight winners? Anything is possible when you see teams like France and Spain winning their first titles in 1998 and in 2010, respectively.
There has never been a winner from the other confederations other than from Europe and South America. The closest was South Korea when they made it to the semi-finals before losing to Germany 1-0. The African teams have never made it at least to the semi-finals yet.
It would be interesting to see if any from Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco or Tunisia can at least make the Semi Finals this time. We do hope that Qatar as hosts would be able to make it past their group stage. The last time a host did not make it was South Africa in 2010.
The last European Championship where Italy triumphed over England and the last South American Championship where Argentina triumphed over Brazil, gave us a lot to look forward to. This would be the likely final appearance of players like Luka Modric of Croatia, Neymar of Brazil, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal. There would be superstars and the possibility of another Kylian Mbappe of France breaking through as he did when France won the last World Cup in 2018. We hope to see a repeat performance in Qatar.
This World Cup would be held during the holidays and the final is just a week before Christmas. Let us hope that we could enjoy the tournament on free TV as companies sponsor them for the common folk. It is after all a sport for the masses.
As of now, we would start to sit back and enjoy the fight of Manchester City and Liverpool for the English Premier League. Manchester City has won it since the 2017-18 season and only lost it in the 2019-20 season to Liverpool. Sad to say, Manchester United has gone downhill. So has Chelsea and Arsenal. The English Premier League is still the most widely watched football league in the world. It is also the oldest league (founded in 1888). Their closest rival is the La Liga (Spanish League).
The English Premier League has an average attendance of over 38,000 and a TV viewership of over 1.7 billion per season based on Googled sources. The 2018 World Cup in Russia drew an average of over 47,000 in attendance per match and up to 517 million TV viewership for the tournament.
The statistics is a boon for sponsors, and one wonders if Coca Cola would have to find water for Cristiano Ronaldo in case, they call him for a media conference. We remembered what he did with Coke. Adidas would again be the official ball sponsor. They have just released ‘Al Rihla’ as the official ball.
Until then, we must just make do with the final legs of the EPL and the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals.
To all our Muslim readers, Selamat Berpuasa! To all our Christian readers, here is wishing you a Blessed Easter in advance (17th April 2022).