There isn’t much time to go before the 2023 World Cup finally gets underway in Qatar. The decision to hand the biggest football competition in the world to the nation was one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the sport, and the move which sees the competition takes place in the middle of the domestic season around Europe.
This means that a number of the top players could be fatigued by the time that the competition gets underway later in the year.
So, why was Qatar selected as the host for the 2023 World Cup, and how has the decision been received by fans of the sport from around the world?
Qatar Awarded 2023 World Cup
According to Bovada the favorite to win the Qatar World Cup right now is France. However, that goes to the second plan, as the arguments related to this competition go way beyond the expectations of who will win it.
The decision to award Qatar the hosting responsibilities for the 2023 World Cup was made by FIFA in December 2010. The decision was immediately received negatively by fans from around the world, due to the poor human rights record in the country. That same stance has been made by LGBTQ+ groups, as they fear for fans that will be heading over to the country due to the legal issues.
However, one of the few advantages that come with the country hosting the World Cup this year is the fact that the competition will be heading to a completely new area, as it will be the first World Cup hosted in the Arab World. That was something that Sepp Blatter mentioned before the decision was made, as he claimed that the area deserves to host a World Cup for the 22 nations that are located in the area.
Bringing new eyes to the sport is something that FIFA has often tried to do throughout the history of the competition, and that has been evident throughout history, with South Africa hosting the competition for the first time in 2010, and Asia hosting responsibilities for the 2002 World Cup.
Change Of Date
One of the most controversial aspects of awarding Qatar the 2023 World Cup was the heat that players would need to compete in. If the tournament was staged during the traditional period, the weather would reach temperatures of up to 45 degrees. However, to combat this issue, it was announced by FIFA that the World Cup would instead take place in November and December, becoming the first-ever World Cup to be held across the winter months.
The decision certainly appears to make sense on the surface, as players could face games at temperatures of between 30 and 25 degrees. The low temperatures during these months can be as little as 10 degrees. However, a number of the biggest European leagues were against this stance, as it meant disrupting the season at a pivotal stage.
The new dates also mean that fixtures in the first half of the season will be condensed, with teams competing in European competition likely to play at least twice on the majority of the weeks in the build-up to the start of the World Cup. However, many have still argued that matches may be among the most engrossing that we have seen, as players will not be as fatigued as they would be if the competition was played in the summer.
The Qatar World Cup bid has been littered with controversy, which is especially centered around how the bid was won. Qatari officials were accused of paying FIFA delegates after the bid was won, with some reports claiming that bribes in the region of $3 million were offered to secure votes. However, these claims have been rebuffed following a lengthy investigation.
Sepp Blatter was one of the biggest supporters of hosting the event in Qatar, but he later changed his stance and stated that members within FIFA may have made the wrong decision when placing their votes. Even after being awarded the World Cup, many believed that the decision may possibly be reversed, but nothing ever materialized.
As well as bribery controversies, issues have also been raised surrounding the working rights of workers that were working on the construction of stadiums. Amnesty International was among the most vocal, as they accused organizers of forced labor, and that was followed up by claims that workers weren’t paid.
It has also been reported by The Guardian that over 6,500 migrant workers had been killed during the construction, but these claims have been rebuffed by World Cup organizers. Instead, organizers claimed that between 2014 and 2020 there were 37 deaths related to work-related injuries relating to the World Cup.
Who Will Win The World Cup?
The draw for the 2023 World Cup was made earlier this year, as the 32 teams involved were drawn into eight groups. The betting for the competition has been very competitive throughout the markets being open, with Brazil currently the standout chance after falling in the final of the Copa America 12 months ago. It has been a long time since Brazil last won the World Cup, as their most recent success came 20 years ago when the competition was held in South Korea and Japan.
France is another of the leading contenders to win the competition this year. The defending champions won their first World Cup since 1998 in Russia four years ago, as they won the final against Croatia 4-2.
The depth within the French national team is stacked, which means that even injuries between now and the start of the tournament aren’t likely to have a major impact on their chances. It also helps their case that they are drawn into a very straightforward group alongside Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia.
England is also considered a major contender for the competition after being drawn alongside Wales, Iran, and the United States. The Three Lions haven’t won a major tournament since 1966, but Gareth Southgate is edging closer to success. England have beaten the finalists at the EUROs last summer and made it through to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
However, one thing is for sure, the World Cup later this year is likely to be a competition that will be remembered for generations to come.