U.S. first team in as fans, trophy arrive for Qatar 2022 World Cup
The United States (U.S.) and Australia are the first teams to arrive in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off this weekend, AFP reports.
Qatar is the smallest country to ever host the World Cup and according to predictions, more than one million fans will be in the country to watch the competition. Already, some of the fans have arrived in the country for what promises a great show, albeit with some controversies.
The report states that safety barriers have gone up across Doha ahead of the event.
It said that the trophy, which will be presented to the winning team on December 18, returned from a world tour in time for next Sunday’s opening game when hosts Qatar take on Ecuador.
FIFA’s pleas to ‘focus on the football’ have struggled, however, against an international spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community. Qatar has angrily rebuffed most of the attacks and local media, yesterday, blasted the ‘arrogance’ of some Western countries.
“It seems to have been all we have read about in recent weeks,” said Ringo Gonzalez, an Ecuadoran based in Germany, who was among fans gathering at the World Cup countdown clock on the Doha seafront early Sunday. “It will be good to see the teams finally doing something. I want Ecuador to do well and to see Lionel Messi and the other big names in action.”
Organisers say that 2.9 million of the 3.1 million tickets have been sold and scores of hopeful fans waited outside the FIFA ticketing centre hoping that scarce tickets become available for top games.
Matthew Coleman, an Australian living in Doha, and his Dutch friend, Gijs Beenker, left empty-handed because there were no ‘interesting’ matches available. At a nearby World Cup souvenir store, the staff said Europeans, who buy the official ball or the La’eeb mascot were the main clients.
Migrant workers from South Asia have bought thousands of replica Brazil and Argentina shirts and can be seen wearing them in the streets. The labourers have been at the centre of an often acrimonious dispute over deaths, injuries and their working conditions since Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010.
European and Qatari media, yesterday, kept up their war of words over whether the energy-rich Gulf state should host the event.
One British newspaper said that many fans believed that Indians in Qatar had been ‘paid’ to take part in rallies supporting Argentina and Brazil. Thousands of migrant workers flocked to the march on Friday.
In response, Qatar’s Al-Sharq newspaper said the anti-Qatar campaign ‘confirms the arrogance of some Western countries who believe organizing the World Cup must remain monopolized by them.’
Al Raya said, “the enthusiastic, festive atmosphere of large crowds of football fans of different nationalities in Doha revealed the failure of smear campaigns, led by some media and Western politicians against the 2022 World Cup.”
Meanwhile, Qatar has partnered with several countries in an effort to ensure utmost security at the sporting event.
Thirteen nations, including the U.S., UK, Turkey, France, Germany and Pakistan, are sending security personnel to Qatar in an effort to bolster security at the World Cup tournament.
The forces have already started arriving through the country’s borders, ensuring maximum protection ahead of the kick-off in less than a week.
On Friday, two British ships from the UK arrived at the Umm Al-Houl Naval Base as part of a joint cooperation between both nations. The ships, Bangor and Guardian, were received by the Amiri Naval Forces, according to Qatar News Agency (QNA).
The European country is sending Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to help secure the sea and air bases during the World Cup.
“The arrival of the two ships comes within the cooperation agreements concluded by the Ministry of Defence with brotherly and friendly forces to secure the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said QNA, adding that “upon arriving at the base, the crew of the two ships expressed their happiness for being in the State of Qatar and for their participation in securing this global football event.”
Turkish and Pakistani ships have also arrived at the same base to participate in securing the grand tournament. Pakistan alone is sending an estimated 4, 500 armed soldiers, while Turkey is sending 3,000 riot police officers.
France agreed in December last year to send personnel and material to the Gulf state, including a BASSALT anti-drone system that detects and identifies incoming drones. France also said it will be sending one of its Air Force’s four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), which can track hundreds of targets.
The soldiers and officers are expected to be deployed on security duties inside and outside the venues. Some will also be assigned to guard hotels and tourist spots around the Gulf nation, officials have stated.
U.S. forces, who are expected to aid in protecting the country during the tournament have also landed in Doha. Their deployment comes in accordance with the joint cooperation agreements between both nations.