Sunday, November 27, 2022

The World Cup in Qatar ends in disaster as the hosts are eliminated after just six days

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The Netherlands’ draw with Ecuador eliminated Qatar less than a week into the tournament

Qatar’s PR offensive has never depended on the success of the national team at the first-ever World Cup in the Middle East, but it ended in disaster for Felix Sanchez’s side as they were eliminated first-team.

The hosts lost their opening two games and were beaten 2-0 by Ecuador in Sunday’s opener thanks to a brace from Enner Valencia, failing to find a shot on target. They were physically unable to keep up and the humiliation could have been greater as another Valencia strike after just four minutes was ruled out doubtfully for offside.

Qatar holds a piece of history and scored their first World Cup goal in Friday’s 3-1 defeat by Ecuador. But Qatar saw the Netherlands draw 1-1 with Ecuador in their other Group A game of the day just six days into the tournament.

After South Africa’s elimination from the group stage in 2010, they are only the second country to host a World Cup and not make it through to the knockout stages.

Before Qatar 2022 began, there was some optimism in the Gulf state that they might surprise their critics. They are the reigning Asia Cup champions and efforts have been made to strengthen the domestic Qatar Stars League. it didn’t make any difference at all on the biggest stage.

Even with the hosts no longer participating, Qatar will remain under scrutiny for the remainder of the tournament, which has been marred by corruption allegations and human rights abuses.

Controversy has spilled over into its opening week. Players were forced to abandon plans to protest the country’s anti-LGBT+ laws by wearing “OneLove” armbands after it was revealed captains were at risk of being cautioned. Fans have also reported that goods with rainbow symbols have been confiscated upon entering the site and the sale of alcohol has been banned at the 11th hour World Cup venues.

Spectator numbers in Doha have also raised eyebrows, with official attendances often exceeding stadium capacity – even with thousands of visibly empty seats.

These are the issues the tournament will ultimately be remembered for as Qatar are unable to salvage national pride through their on-pitch efforts.

Sanchez, their head coach, had lashed out at Qatar’s critics, branding online criticism of the state “very dangerous” and insisting it would “not destabilize us”.

“Obviously we don’t like it when people criticize our country,” he said. “In terms of football, we had great preparation for the World Cup.”

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