Qatar 2022 World Cup – Let the “party” begin

It still measures 40 centimeters, still weighs just over 6 kilos. And for four years, finally four years and four months, it was the relative property of France. She is the World Cup. Competition created by Jules Rimet almost a century ago. And trophy revised, indeed magnified, by Silvio Gazzaniga in the early 70s when Pelé’s Brazil won the winged cup at the end of a Mexican symphony without equal.

This November 20, 2022 has never weighed so much on the shoulders of those who crave it. Because the World Cup that opens on the occasion of an unprecedented Qatar – Ecuador is a concept far from what was originally thought. And that has nothing to do with the season and this fall that has finally taken up residence in the Northern Hemisphere. Because the first World Cup in Uruguayan history took place in the heart of southern winter. Because even the South African edition, closer to us, took place in sometimes cool temperatures.

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Argentinian fans in front of a 2022 World Cup placard

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Sport and politics, not even decency and conscience, have never been so intertwined on the eve of the biggest sporting event on the planet. So yes, other appointments, before 2022, have brought with them an acrid taste. And very soon. 1934 and Mussolini’s Italy were its first avatar. 1978 and Videla’s Argentina had taken a distant relay. These “examples” to remind us that the Blatter gang – who twelve years ago offered the 2018 and 2022 editions to Russia and Qatar – and his worthy successor Infantino invented nothing and in the end limited themselves to following in the footsteps of their more or less distant predecessors. Except that the cynicism shown around the event that interests us, at a time when few things escape the light, is a planetary novelty.

“Don’t mix sports and politics”, which they repeat aloud when it suits them. But if he’s not the only one to dissociate facts and words, FIFA has always done just that. And this World Cup is just the result. We will not recall the past decade, the scandals, the victims of a World Cup organized at all costs, the ecological disaster and the serious restrictions on human rights in the country that will host the planet for a short month.

The original sin

Furthermore, a small parenthesis: the original sin of this World Cup is that of not having wanted to open up to new territories. It was also a duty because America and Europe, if they remain natural guests, can no longer be exclusive. The concern is that we have done it here and especially in this way.

If we adorn ourselves with cynicism, in turn and on our scale, that of informed observer and attentive spectator, we suspect that the front will dilute and thought will quickly turn to play and that there will still be pleasure for reasons, even if a particular embarrassment is felt and not only at the armhole. Just look around us, every day: the pomposity that usually accompanies the World Cup has been left in the closet. From sponsors to broadcasters, usually quick to point out that they have invested in a product dear to them, literally and figuratively, have thus far kept a low profile.

Gianni Infantino during his pre-World Cup press conference

Credit: Getty Images

And the protagonists of all this? We wish them the best. Because if in recent weeks they have been asked to change the world, when participating on their scale would already be a big step forward with armbands and small gestures here and there, the actors in this history of the XXII World Cup have not asked for anything. Today as yesterday, the weight of the boycott can only rest on their shoulders, however broad they may be. The problem had to be tackled head-on a little earlier and at other heights.

A dream, anyway

They are there to pursue a dream: to play a World Cup for most of them, to win it for a handful of them. France, imagine a destiny with impossible trappings: to keep the trophy conquered in Russia. In the history of the World Cup, only two have succeeded in this four-year tour de force: Italy in 1938 and Brazil in 1962. Closer to home, world champions have tended rather to knock their teeth on the former step. It’s just a statistic, but it’s also and above all a fact: four of the last five planetary kings have fallen in the first round.
The other statistic to remember is that the trophy is only available to a select few. Considering that there are only eight countries that have lifted the World Cup since 1930. And in these eight, there are at least two that have been weaned for too long and can legitimately imagine themselves on the top of the world a stone’s throw from Christmas: Brazil and Argentina, prominent members of a continent on a diet for two decades.

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Twenty years without a win is an eternity on the five-time Auriverde winner’s scale. Argentina has been waiting for him for much longer (1986) and dreams of revenge in 2014, for Lionel Messi and… thanks to him. La Puce should also play in Qatar for his last World Cup. Just like his friend Cristiano Ronaldo who also gets to forget his everyday life. Replacing the everyday with the exceptional is good enough.

Germany, which will eventually recover, Spain, which has undergone its transformation, England, very close to the European throne in 2021, Belgium, for a last generational ball, the Netherlands, for a first, arrives the sharpened appetite. We would have loved to add Senegal to this list. But the Teranga Lions find themselves a little toothless from the package of Sadio Mané. Like every four years, only one will remain. And that’s the only thing that doesn’t change this time.

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