▲ Players from the participating nations for the Qatar World Cup (Source: FIFA)
On November 20, (as of Arabian Standard Time), the Qatar World Cup opened splendidly at the Al Bayt Stadium, which can accommodate up to 60,000 people. The Qatar World Cup is the 22nd World Cup in history, but is only the second World Cup ever held in Asia, and the first in the Middle East.
Qatar's hot climate had been a point of controversy for a long time before the games’ openings. Qatar's average daytime temperature in the summer can approach 40- 50°C, which is a fact that led to the decision to hold the games during winter, for the first time in World Cup history. To compensate for the weather, air conditioners were placed and operated inside the stadium to artificially create a pleasant environment, which surprised many people. The Qatari government spent 173 trillion won to establish infrastructure including stadiums for the World Cup. This is an immense sum amounting to more than 30% of the Korean government's annual budget.
In addition to the unique background of this year’s World Cup, the opening ceremony for the Qatar World Cup drew much attention around the world and especially in Korea. BTS vocalist Jungkook was expected to perform, which was predicted to be highly anticipated. The opening ceremony portrayed the World Cup message about the, "harmony of mankind," in Qatar's own colors. During the opening performance, BTS vocalist Jungkook sang the official theme song, "Dreamers," and drew enthusiastic responses. Additionally, the singer and Qatar World Cup Ambassador, Fahad Al- Qubaishi, was splendidly conducted in collaboration with the BTS’s main vocalist, Jungkook.
The Qatar World Cup is the last World Cup with 32 participating teams. The next World Cup in 2026, to be held by three North American countries, will be changed to allow 48 countries to advance to the World Cup tournaments categorized into the following eight groups: Group A (Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands), Group B (England, Iran, the United States, Wales), Group C (Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland), Group D (France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia), Group E (Spain, Costa Rica, Croatia), Group F (Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia), Group G (Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon) and lastly, Group H (Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea).
It is also worthwhile to take a look at some of the interesting attributes about the countries that qualify for the World Cup this year. Qatar, the host country, will make its first appearance on the World Cup stage in history through this year’s games. Russia was banned from participating in all FIFA- organized international competitions, including the World Cup, due to the current political situation and Russian- Ukrainian war. Ukraine also lost a qualifying match against Wales, leaving none of the former Soviet Union countries to qualify for the World Cup. The aforementioned victory in the qualifying round led to Wales becoming eligible for the World Cup for the first time in 64 years since 1958.
The five host cities of this year’s World Cup will be, "Lusail," "Al khor," "Doha," "Al- Rayyan," and, "Al Wakrah." The games will be held in eight stadiums, including the Al Janoub Stadium, which has a capacity of 40,000 people, and Lusail National Stadium, which can accommodate up to 80,000 people. The country that will ultimately lift the World Cup trophy will be decided through the final match, which is to be held at the Lusail National Stadium on December 18. The third-place match will be held on December 17.
Korea also undertook the challenge to win the World Cup trophy. As a result, the skills of the Korean National Team, which has undergone a generational change, are also drawing attention. Kim Min- jae, who is currently a center back for Italy's first- division professional team SSC Naples, expressed regret that he could not play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia due to an injury. Due to this regret, Kim Min- jae, who returned to the World Cup stage for the first time in four years, is expected to play a significant role in the defense. It is also noteworthy that Son Heung- min continues to play while wearing a mask in this year’s World Cup due to an orbital fracture he sustained in the Champion’s League. The first game between Korea and Uruguay, which was held at 10 p.m. on November 24, recorded 14 million simultaneous viewers, according to the three major broadcasting companies. The Qatar World Cup, which had been surrounded by controversy even before its opening, was held spectacularly contrary to previous concerns. Many people around the world are paying keen attention to whether the Qatar World Cup will be able to close successfully, while maintaining its current pleasant atmosphere.
By Kim Min-Seong, cub-reporter email@example.com
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