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Tension, excitement as 2022 World Cup begins

It will be the first of its kind.

Before 2022, the World Cup has never been played in the winter season. The global showpiece has also never been hosted in the Middle East.

So, when the host Qatar kicks-off the competition against Ecuador this weekend, it will be a ride football fans and pundits have never experienced.

It is riddled with many controversial issues.

There is the human rights infringement, the maltreatment of migrant works and the emphatic resistance to homosexuality.

Just on Friday, alcohol was banned around the stadiums.

Before the decision was taken, FIFA and Qatari organisers were engaged in tense negotiations over whether beer would be sold at the stadiums during the tournament.

“Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing the sales point,” FIFA confirmed in a statement.

The tension and uncertainty around the tournament has led to some fans staying away altogether.

“I almost bought tickets to Qatar. But I decided to go to Abu Dhabi instead. Best decision ever,” Lanre Towolawi, a marketing executive with a betting company told DAILY POST.

Gbemigga Omolewa, an IT expert based in the US, is worried for those who made the pricey trip.

“People will also flout the rules in Qatar and claim to have a terrible experience.

“People might even get jailed,” Omolewa said.

Most of the pre-match talk has been on everything else about football.

This is a World Cup that would almost be the last for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two talismanic figures that have ruled football for the past decade.

Ronaldo has already vowed to retire if he leads Portugal to glory.

“It’s going be tough. Extremely difficult. But everything is possible. But of course we’re going to compete,” the 37-year-old told Piers Morgan in an interview this week.

When asked if he would retire if Portugal goes on to win the tournament, Ronaldo replied: “Yes. Retired. 100 per cent.”

They begin that quest against Ghana next Thursday.

The Black Stars make a return to the mundial at the expense of the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

A lot of observers from Africa are keenly waiting to see if any team from the continent finally makes it to the semi-final.

Senegal would have been favourites to break the jinx. But the injury picked up by star striker, Sadio Mane, will see him miss the entire tournament.

So, let’s be realistic. We know who the usual suspects will be to win it.

France. Brazil. Argentina. Germany. Maybe England.

What we don’t know is what a winter World Cup will look like.

Over to you, Qatar.

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