World Cup money, drama and fans focus a white-hot global spotlight on Qatar, a tiny desert nation of one million people whose ruling emir has been accused of playing the host to secret nuclear weapons labs and providing weapons financing for terrorist organizations
‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’: Qatari football is about to take the world by storm. For Qatar’s tiny football team, the country’s first major tournament, the 2022 World Cup, could be the making of them
A few thousand Qatari migrant workers and their children have gathered on the grounds of a mosque in the seaside town of Doha as they pray for peace in the world. But for everyone else, this is a moment of celebration.
Qatar has been named host of the 2022 World Cup, but the tournament has also drawn international condemnation for alleged violations of human rights. And in Qatar, the people who’ve taken over the stadium and turned it into a festival of soccer have no idea that it has become a symbol of the country’s ambitions in the region.
In Doha, the capital of Qatar, the ground-breaking of the first World Cup since 1954 is in full swing. Thousands of people gathered to celebrate their country’s return to international football, and at first were greeted by the sound of Arabic music, the smell of food and cooking oil, and the sight of a sea of yellow-shirted fans.
The mood on the streets was subdued, given the heavy security around the venue and the fears of the country of 1 million people that they were about to play host to a nuclear facility being considered for use by Hamas, Hezbollah or any other terrorist organization. This afternoon, thousands of locals are leaving their homes to buy tickets for the first game of the tournament, which is just days away.
After the announcement of Qatar as the host, the World Cup organizers had planned to hold a meeting with the Qatar government. But the government’s deputy prime minister, Mohammed bin Salman, cancelled the meeting and said that Doha would host the World Cup, making clear his government will ignore the concerns raised by human rights groups and will “fight terrorism and support global peace.”
At the start of the World Cup,