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At the World Cup in Qatar where politics and pleasure collide


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A smiling ghost came out of the floor. The mascot for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, Raeeb, is a disembodied figure wearing a thobe, a white gown favored by men in the Arabian Peninsula. He said at the opening ceremony of the tournament, after Morgan Freeman asked Ghanim Al Mukhta the legless-born Qatari YouTuber if he was welcome in South Korea, he was a member of South Korean boy band BTS. materialized before John Cook., sending the predominantly Qatari crowd into a conservative mode of ecstasy. La’eeb drifts across the spotlighted plains where the former mascot lived, and is traced back to the World Cup his Willie (his lion teddy bear used in England 14 tournaments ago). For football fans, each inning of the World Cup, first held in Uruguay in 1930, brings a direct association. South African Vuvuzela in 2010. on earth.according to FIFA, owning the World Cup, La’eeb came from the “Indescribable Parallel Mascot Verse”. Everyone was encouraged to find their own meaning, even if that meaning was death.

The first 10 days of the World Cup in Qatar were more football than I wanted it to be. It was mean, closed, and transactional. I saw some great goals. I had a Coke and paid with my Visa card. Lined up at the Adidas store. Everything was brand new, air conditioned and covered in a thin layer of almost invisible desert dust. I was safe and occasionally delighted. Mostly thanks to the people I met. It was a case of situational ethics in which the spontaneity and camaraderie of the world’s most popular sport were confused and modified by the circumstances in which it was played.

When we arrived for the season opener, at the Arbeit Stadium, which stands alone in the desert, an industrial confection that towers like a Bedouin tent, we knelt down to pick up the perfect twig of grass and see if it was real. confirmed. I didn’t smell anything. (The World Cup turf is a trademarked coastal paspalum imported from the United States. Each field is irrigated with 10,000 liters of desalinated water per day.) There is camel dung, It was a reality, too. At night in the capital, Doha, we were never within 10 yards of a crowd marshal waving a green or red lightstick telling us where to go. The score of the game in progress was projected onto the side of the skyscraper, winking across the city. It was like being inside a QR code.

Qatar is smaller than Connecticut. All but three teams were based in Doha and, unlike previous World Cups, were able to participate in multiple matches in a single day. The whole world was there, but generally in small proportions. On the shiny new subway, I met a Mexican couple complaining about the lack of beer. “Beer is the atmosphere,” said one of them. Canadian fans discussed the rumored electronic surveillance. (German officials advised visitors to wipe their phones after using his Hayya app in Qatar, which served as both a visa and pass for the tournament.) Welsh supporters I was ordered to take off my rainbow bucket hat.

As a destination, Qatar suffered a construction boom during which an unknown number of migrant workers died.

Doha is a city with six-lane highways and no sidewalks. All shades of beige have compounds. No one was away from the stadium or shopping mall, so sometimes I felt like I was going to the World Cup alone. One morning I tried to find a Dutch team training at a Qatar University on-campus facility. The campus, a vast maze of roads and checkpoints, has been closed. (Qatar’s school and college semesters ended early to make way for tournaments.) No one knew where the teams were. Instead, we stopped at Caravan City, a fan-friendly trailer park with simple stone mosaics of flowers dotted here and there on windswept gravel plains. I ran into Jaime Iguera from New Jersey. The trailer was sweet enough, adorned with paintings of stags. Outside there were no souls to be seen. “I said, ‘Is there anyone else staying here?'” Iguera said. “Do not know.”

FIFA On December 2, 2010, it gave Qatar the right to host the World Cup. On the same day, the organization’s executive committee voted to give Russia her 2018 edition. Of the 22 men who voted, 15 were later indicted by American or Swiss prosecutors, banned from football, FIFAethics committee, or the International Olympic Committee. An outside adviser pointed out that Qatar did not have a single suitable stadium, which was a potential security risk, with temperatures in the summer reaching 110 degrees. (The tournament was originally scheduled for June and he for July.) In his next 12 years, the World Cup was held in Qatar, which relied overwhelmingly on migrant workers from South Asia. It caused a construction boom that drank water. Human rights groups reported deaths, reduced workplace safety and misery among unpaid workers trapped in Qatar’s unequal immigration system. “It’s not just sad, it’s sick,” said Thomas Hitzl, a former gay member of the German national team. Sperger said. Guardian.

On November 8th, 12 days before the tournament began, former president Sepp Blatter said: FIFA, admitted Qatar was a “bad choice”. His successor, Gianni Infantino, said it would be the best World Cup ever. without” asked him to focus on football.

The day before the opening, Infantino addressed about 400 reporters in an auditorium in Doha. “Today I have very strong feelings,” he began. “Today I feel Qatar. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker.” Fantino recalled his own struggles as a child of Italian immigrants in Switzerland. He was bullied for having something red on his hand. He asked the director of communications what these were called. “frecklessaid Infantino. He blamed reporters for not writing more about disabled people.”Nobody cares,” he said. Mourning the African migrants who died in the Mediterranean waters in search of a better life, he said: Guys, where is our way of working going? ”

Whatever Infantino was trying to say, the words “Tukoh Taka”, a very catchy anthem for the tournament’s fan festival held in a shadeless concrete plaza not far from Doha’s waterfront. also made much less sense. “Some say ‘Football’, some say ‘Soccer’ / Rickle Shot Go Block A (Block A)” Thank you Nicki Minaj. Or a TikTok video has gone viral showing a British fan, presumably from Liverpool, having a good time in Doha. his pet lion.

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