In Qatar, the World Cup Puts the Middle East’s Contradictions on Display

In Qatar, the World Cup Puts the Middle East’s Contradictions on Display
A fan waves a Palestinian flag prior to a World Cup soccer match between Qatar and Senegal at the Al Thumama stadium in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 25, 2022 (AP photo by Petr Josek).

DOHA, Qatar—The 2022 FIFA World Cup, one of the biggest international sporting events, is being held for the first time in the Middle East, with Qatar as the host nation. As a member of the England Supporters’ Travel Club—the official fan club of the England men’s national football team—I decided to attend the World Cup and watched the team’s group-stage match against the United States last week in Al Bayt stadium.

My experience in Qatar underlines the economic, political and social tensions that this World Cup has put on prominent display. 

Arriving in Qatar and getting through the airport on Friday was a logistical breeze, but it soon became obvious that not everything would go so well. When I arrived at the Fan Village Free Zone, one of the accommodation sites for spectators, there were not enough “cabins” ready for fans who had booked them. A manager I spoke to said that hundreds of other fans had faced the same problem before me. After waiting around for half an hour, we were informed that everyone would be refunded and transferred to another site.

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