Will you be watching the 2022 World Cup?

But to get an overview, start with “A Contentious World Cup,” a conversation between Lauren Jackson, author of The Morning newsletter, and Tariq Panja, sports reporter for The Times. Here are some excerpts:

Lauren: I grew up in Arkansas where we saw a different kind of football. Can you give me a sense of how big the World Cup is worldwide?

Tarik: There is nothing bigger, not even the Olympic Games. The World Cup is the most watched event in the world. It takes place every four years and is a highlight in many people’s lives.

These 32 teams capture fans’ imaginations beyond their borders, particularly in Asia, where historically most countries do not qualify for the World Cup. People can accept a team and support them with great passion.

This is the fourth world championship you cover. What’s different about this one?

This is the first time the games will be played in November and December. Due to the desert heat in Qatar, the schedule had to be changed, turning the entire global football calendar upside down. For the first time, European football has been paused halfway through the season. Players now have less time to train with their national teams.

These games were usually held in different cities in huge countries like Russia, Brazil or South Africa. This is the smallest venue where this tournament has ever been held.

In 2009, Qatar submitted the most extravagant bid in history to host the World Cup. Why was it so keen to host?

Qatar is a tiny speck in the Gulf desert that wants the world to know it’s here. It is the first Arab and first Muslim nation to host a sporting event of this magnitude. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates look on with envy, lending clout to Qatar.

In 2009, Qatar spent tens of millions of dollars trying to host the World Cup. They paid famous athletes like Zinedine Zidane, one of the best players in history, to support their bid. Still, Qatar’s offer seemed like a joke. It was as fancy as a concept. They got questions about the heat, how they would accommodate the games in a country smaller than Connecticut and if they would allow alcohol.

When the then FIFA President opened the envelope and the name Qatar came out, everything immediately turned to corruption. The ensuing investigations forced FIFA to change the way it determined a host and revealed how a country could bend the world to its will through cash raising.

The article continues:

How did Qatar manage its preparation? Talk us through the controversy surrounding this tournament.

They essentially had to rebuild an entire country in 12 years to host this month-long event. They gathered hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, especially workers from South Asia, to undertake this construction. Thousands of these workers have died in Qatar since 2010, the year the country gained host rights, according to human rights groups. Many more were injured during the construction or renovation of these eight air-conditioned stadiums, which Qatar will have little use for after the World Cup. It was a collision of some of the world’s poorest people with the ambition of some of the world’s richest people.

The country’s human rights record has come under scrutiny beyond the deaths of workers. A key aspect of this is Qatar’s criminalization of homosexuality. The World Cup should be this festival open to everyone. How does that fit with a country that would put you in jail for being gay?

FIFA President Gianni Infantino yesterday blasted the outrage, calling it “hypocrisy” by European countries. He urged fans to criticize him instead of Qatar.

Some European football fans are calling for a boycott of the games. What would you say to someone weighing this decision?

It’s a conversation people are having around the world and it speaks to the troubling nature of this tournament. Everyone has to find that out for themselves. But from the player’s point of view, it’s not their fault. It’s the position FIFA put them in.

Ultimately, however, this tournament could be played on the moon and would attract the same number of eyeballs. Soon most of the world will only be talking about what the matchups look like.

If you’d like to learn more, here are some questions raised in recent Times coverage:

Students, read one of the articles in The Extensive coverage of the Times of the tournament, and then tell us:

  • are you a sports fan do you love soccer Will you follow the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

  • If so, which team will you be cheering for? Which players and encounters are you most looking forward to? Do you have a favorite memory from a past World Cup?

  • Were you already familiar with some topics related to the 2022 World Cup? Which ones are you most interested in? Why?

  • Advocacy groups have criticized Qatar’s human rights record, including laws criminalizing homosexuality and restricting freedom of expression. However, historian Abdullah Al-Arian argues in a guest post that the World Cup belongs in the Middle East. Do you think Qatar should host the 2022 tournament? Why or why not?

  • The Times writes that the decision to move the World Cup to Qatar “turned a small nation upside down, damaged the reputation of global football’s governing body and changed the structure of the sport”. Do you think the 2022 games have damaged FIFA’s reputation and the sport itself?

  • Make bold predictions: who will be world champion? Who will be the breakout stars of the tournament?

Students ages 13 and up in the United States and Great Britain and ages 16 and up in other countries are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by Learning Network staff, but please remember that once your comment is accepted, it will be published.

You can find more student feedback questions here. Teachers, check out this guide to learn how to incorporate these prompts into your lessons.


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