by Logan Tyler
An unusual topic being discussed around the Thanksgiving table this year is not only professional football games, but also the other kind of football: soccer. With the 2022 Men’s World Cup set in Qatar this year, FIFA made a controversial decision to host the tournament during the country’s winter months to prevent injuries due to heat exhaustion. Qatar’s summer season can reach temperatures up to 100 degrees fahrenheit, compared to their winter season which usually stays around the 70 degree mark.
This year’s World Cup is monumental as the first tournament hosted in the Middle East. FIFA named Qatar the host in 2010 to satisfy their pledge to stage at least one international tournament in the region before 2030. In an effort to have their bid chosen by FIFA, Qatar pledged to put air conditioning systems in every World Cup stadium to combat reservations about their extreme weather.
Whatever the temperature, it is evident in the tournament’s first round that every country showed up to claim the gold trophy. The World Cup started on November 20, with Qatar losing to Ecuador, 2-0 – marking them as the first ever host nation to lose their opening match. With their 1-3 loss against Senegal on November 25, Qatar has been called the worst host country in World Cup history in terms of performance.
Saudi Arabia has gained some traction with their 2-1 upset over Messi’s Argentinian team on November 22. Although they lost to Poland a few days later, Saudi Arabia currently stands in second place of the Group C bracket.
Another big upset in the first round was Japan’s 2-1 win over Germany on November 23, coming back to score 2 goals in the second half within the span of 8 minutes. Japan will look to keep their winning streak alive in their match against Costa Rica on November 27.
However, the United States has had a difficult time getting 3 points. The U.S., who did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, tied their opening match to Wales, 1-1, on November 21. They also could not find the back of the net in their November 25 match against England, ultimately ending scoreless at the final whistle. With their ties, the United States stands at third place in their round B bracket.
No matter the location of the World Cup, it’s clear that anything is possible, despite what previous numbers might say. The tournament will no doubt continue to be an exciting and fun one to watch, uniting the world in its communal love of the game.