From an exhibition featuring Maradona’s number 10 jersey to orchestral concerts in open air, here are some highlights you can expect from the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Football fans are looking forward to the 2022 FIFA World Cup that will take place in Qatar. Scheduled between November 20 to December 18, it will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world.
Here are seven news items about this year’s World Cup you may have missed:
Messi says goodbye
Argentine outlet Star+ has interviewed footballer Lionel Messi, who confirmed that the World Cup in Qatar will be his last: “Is it my last World Cup? Yes, surely yes, surely yes.”
“I am counting down the days until the World Cup. There is a bit of anxiety and nerves at the same time. Wanting it to be now and the nerves that were already there, what is going to happen." he said.
“On the one hand, we can’t wait for it to arrive and on the other hand, we’re scared of wanting it to go well,” he added.
Considered one of the greatest football players of all time, Messi, 35, will continue playing for Paris St Germain until June 2023, with the possibility of extending his contract for one more year. Having played with Barcelona previously, he said he has thought of becoming a sports director for the team.
“I would love to be sporting director at some point. I do not know if it will be at Barcelona or not, or if I will fill another role. But if there is a possibility, I would love to help the club,” he said.
Qatar finds extra accommodation for visitors, extends metro hours
Bloomberg reports that thousands of hotel rooms and Airbnb housing previously reserved for football teams, sponsors and early-booking visitors are now available for the public, as previously announced.
According to a Qatari spokesperson, the country is “on track to provide 130,000 rooms for the tournament, and that more than 117,000 rooms are currently available.”
The news outlet lists lodging options as “purpose-built housing, tents, Airbnb-style accommodations and at least two cruise ships with almost 4,000 cabins.”
Tourists who are attending the World Cup from nearby nations will fly in and out on the same day, with an increased number of flights from neighbouring countries thanks to regional partnerships.
Doha News also reports that “Qatar Rail will also deploy 110 metro trains and increase daily operating hours to 21 hours to accommodate a projected increase in passenger numbers during the World Cup.”
Glastonbury spider to make an appearance
Doha News, quoting The Sun, writes that the FIFA World Cup organisers have hired Arcadia, the owners of the Glastonbury Festival arena, to celebrate with a festival during the football cup.
The music festival, featuring world-famous DJs and light shows, is expected to showcase the Glastonbury spider. The Sun reports that “the ‘Arcadia Spectacular’, complete with the fire-breathing 50-tonne Glastonbury spider, will offer a capacity of 15,000 per day.”
Maradona jersey on display
The 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum has launched a new exhibition just in time for the FIFA World Cup, called the ‘World of Football’.
The museum website notes that “Visitors will be able to relive memories of some of the greatest World Cup moments of the past, get behind the scenes of Qatar’s successful bid to welcome the world and see our plans for the future.”
One of the priceless items on display is Argentine player Diego Maradona’s shirt from the time when he scored his legendary “Hand of God” goal in 1986 against England. According to Doha News, “The museum has borrowed the blue jersey, which sold at auction in May for a then-record $9.3 million.”
Sohail and Soraya, China’s panda ‘ambassadors’ to the World Cup
China has announced on September 26, 2022 that it would send a pair of pandas, Sohail and Soraya, to Doha in October ahead of the World Cup.
According to Doha News, “Despite not being able to participate in the World Cup, Chinese companies have greatly contributed to the development of major projects related to it.”
The pandas are part of China’s ‘soft power’ diplomacy, displaying close ties with its allies. The tradition, the news outlet notes, dates back to the times of Empress Wu who sent pandas to Japan in the seventh century, and was revived during Mao Zedong’s administration.
Arabic World Cup song ‘Arhbo’ proves a hit
The song ‘Arhbo’ released in tandem with the FIFA World Cup at the beginning of September has already amassed close to 16 million listens on YouTube.
The song, described by Doha News as “on the tongue of almost every Arab thanks to its catchy rhythm … gained massive traction immediately after it was released.”
Doha News reports that the music video was directed by Qatari talent Mohamed al Ibrahim and was produced by Katara Studios in Doha.
Sung by young talents from the Middle East, the track features Nasser al Kubaisi, a young Qatari artist, Saudi Arabian singer and artist Ayed Yousef who was also one of the judges of Saudi Arabia’s first ever singing talent programme “Beat Me if You Can,”and Haneen Hussein, who penned the hit ‘Bravo Alek’ along with Abdelaziz Lewis and Badr al Shuaibi which saw over 117 million YouTube views.
Qatar Philharmonic makes an appearance outdoors
If you visit Doha during the FIFA World Cup, chances are you will run into the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) performing at outdoor venues with an unusual repertoire.
Instead of the typical classical fare, the QPO will showcase “popular football tracks from around the world, Gulf folk songs, Arab-themed music, and compositions that have been orchestrated by the Philharmonic” according to QPO Executive Director, Kurt Meister, who told Doha News that a total of eight to ten concerts will be held outdoors.
“We have made arrangements for famous songs and also the most famous football songs from different countries.”