Qatar 2022 World Cup: Other winners and losers, by Prof MK Othman

Sitting On A Goldmine: Irrigation, a glorious future for Katsina State, by Prof. M. K. Othman
Prof. MK Othman.

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Other winners and losers, by Prof MK Othman

Deep Thoughts with Othman

The 2022 World Cup tournament tagged “Qatar 2022” came and gone, left sweet memories, and accentuated lessons for future tournaments. The billions of soccer fans across the seven continents watched with painstaking amazement 64 matches played by 32 countries during the 29-day tournament. Qatar was the first Arab- Muslim country to host a such gigantic event since the world cup tournament started 93 years ago. The country’s excellent performance in hosting the event was very commendable. Qatar went the extra mile to give the tournament a distinctly Arab and Muslim flavour, achieved huge success, and made it unique. Qatar has raised the hosting standard to high-heaven.

When Qatar won the hosting right in 2010, there were agitations and protests among the players and supporters against the hosting because of alleged human rights abuses and its anti-democracy stance. Many believed the hosting right would be withdrawn before the time of the event. Most of the allegations could be directly linked to some practices forbidden by the Islamic religion such as the consumption of alcohol in public, the display of nudity, prostitution, and the like. What annoyed the West most was the restriction placed on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Regional and global sports tournaments are the biggest avenue for trading alcohol, tobacco, and prostitution running into billions of US Dollars. How can the world’s number one tournament, football be staged without this trade?

Qatar worked extra hard to secure the hosting right and then worked super-extra to maintain the right while facing steep opposition. It continued working tirelessly proving to the world its capability, readiness, and willingness to make the environment highly friendly, and comfortable for the fair tournament with equal opportunity to the participating countries. Qatar budgeted a whopping $300 billion of oil proceeds for Qatar 2022 to squarely finance the World Cup. An estimated $6.5 billion went into stadiums, which includes seven new air-conditioned stadiums that were all networked by a metro line. Among the stadiums was the make-shift and the first transportable Stadium, which has since been pulled down and to be exported to South America. To prove its critics wrong, Qatar showed that it is not the system of government or State-religion that matters, but leadership disposition, right ideas, and national interest.

At the end of the Qatar 2022 tournament, Argentina, France, and Croatia won first, second and third positions with gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. Besides these cup winners, other winners won more valuable assets than the cups. These were the biggest winners of the World Cup 2022. Who are these winners?

Islam as a religion was the number biggest winner of Qatar 2022. Islam as a religion of peace and harmony has been the most misconstrued and misrepresented religion especially in the West and among some adherents of other religions.

In 2001, I was in CAREL, a Center for Adult Education of Languages in Royan, West France when the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated in the USA. My first name “Mohammed” revealed my identity as a Muslim without being told. I and other known Muslims around were subjected to psychological trauma by our non-Muslim colleagues with uncomfortable gazes and careless remarks portraying Muslims as untrusted people. Today, Qatar is changing that impression about Islam and Muslims. Qatar used the opportunity to introduce millions of people to Islam thereby changing their misconceptions about the Islamic religion that some people link to radicalism and terrorism. Islam strongly condemns all kinds of terrorism against humanity. Qatar broke the islamophobia, and explained Islam in a better way, on the streets verses of the Quran and Hadith were written in eight different languages that explained what Islam and its value stand for. Over 2,000 learned men and women who could speak 100s languages were engaged to explain to the guests/fans any question on Islam, this was in addition to having a barcode programmed to explain Islam or any question in the visitor’s language, mosques were allowed to be visited by the fans and the 2,000 people were busy engaging them on the different aspects of Islam. In the end, 1000s people came to understand what Islam stands for and over 500 people became Islamic converts.

The second biggest winner of the event was Qatar, a country of three million people, which was the smallest country that has ever hosted the tournament. Rich in petrodollars, the desert country showed the world how financial force combined with effective altruism and administrative efficiency of resources could shush congenital critics without bending political principles, national values, and religious beliefs. Congratulation Qatar!

The third biggest winner was Morocco. The country that emerged as the wonderful team of the tournament. While their countrymen are still arguing the Moroccan heritage and affiliation – African, Arabian, or even the age-long fantasies of European Union (EU) membership. Whatever their perceptions, it is noteworthy that their national team pulled one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. It won four of its first five games, defeating three tournament giants – Belgium, Spain, and Portugal – at a stretch, to reach Africa or Arab’s first semi-finals in World Cup history. Today, Moroccan football is better for the World Cup feat, earning $25 million for making it to the semis, in addition to a $1.5 million grant awarded to all World Cup teams. Congratulation Morocco!

The fourth winners of the event are Nigerians, ardent soccer lovers, the 29 days of Qatar 2022 were a big relief to Nigerians. They temporarily forgot their economic hardship; security threats and empty promises of the politicians campaigning to win or regain their political elections by hook or crook. Many were glued to their television sets all through the 64 matches, even with empty stomachs and without electricity. Congratulation Nigerians!

The list of winners may be endless but there were also obvious losers of Qatar 2022. Among these losers were teams that could not make it to Qatar despite their assiduous efforts. The count to 2026 has just begun. Other sets of losers are the LGBT community, the producers of alcohol, the practitioners of harlotry, the hookers, and others.

Nigeria as a country is unfortunately one of the losers. Nigeria, the most populous black country in the world failed to qualify for Qatar 2022 despite its teeming, experienced, and highly-skilled players and enthusiastic football lovers. Nepotism consumed Nigeria’s qualification. Nepotism has no place in sports. The nation’s very poor standing in transparency, accountability, and efficiency is worrisome. That no Nigerian featured as a key official of any of the 64 matches, out of 36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials appointed for the Qatar World Cup should make us cry. Unfortunately, we seem not to care. It was the biggest shame to the football administrators in Nigeria. Can we begin to plan for the 2026 World Cup tournament planned to take place in three countries; USA, Mexico, and Canada?

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.


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