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The FIFA World Cup in Qatar kicked off officially on Sunday after 12 years of questions, criticisms, and rumors.
Several controversies happened before the first tournament in a Muslim country in the Middle East.
But FIFA has told all 32 countries that are competing to “focus on football.” Hosts Qatar played its first game at Al Bayt Stadium against Ecuador.
The home teams that made it are all in the same group, and England played Iran before Wales played the USA the next day (19:00).
BBC Sport looks at the list of problems, how excited people are in Qatar, and who might win the World Cup.
Qatar 2022 will be one of history’s most talked-about and debated World Cups.
Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States all put in bids to host the tournament, but the Gulf country won. Still, there were claims that the process was full of corruption, which Qatar has always denied.
Deaths and human rights
The Guardian reported in February 2021 that 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since the country won the World Cup bid.
The number is based on what the embassies of the countries in Qatar said.
But the government of Qatar said that the number was misleading because not all people who died were working on projects for the World Cup. For example, the government said that its records of accidents showed that 37 workers had died. Only three were “work-related” at World Cup stadium construction sites between 2014 and 2020.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) said that was too low.
The rest of the world is worried about how LGBT fans will be treated since Qatar strictly follows Sharia Law, and homosexuality is against the law there.
Organizations working with FIFA on the World Cup have said that “progress has been slow” and that there are still “issues of concern.”
To boycott the World Cup, Pride groups in the UK asked bars and other places not to show games.
Players have been told to use their power to talk about problems in the country.
Last week, Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA who announced that the tournament would be held in Qatar in 2010, said the decision was “wrong.”
Temperatures here often reach 50C in the summer, which is why they moved the tournament to a “winter” time. However, it is still a pleasant 32C during the day and 22C at night.
It has caused European leagues to stop in the middle of the season. Only a week has passed since Fulham and Manchester United played their last Premier League game.
Numerous changes to the world cup
Three months before the tournament started, the South American confederation Conmebol asked the FIFA council to move the start date up by one day.
Fans will not be able to buy or drink alcohol in any of the eight stadiums, the organizers said.
This will be the shortest World Cup since Argentina in 1978. It will last only 29 days, from November 20 to December 18.
Because of this, most days during the group stages have had to have four games. And there is no time between the group stages and the elimination rounds. So the last 16 players will play the day after the group stages are over.
What will it be like for people who support the cause?
A country where less than three million people live. Over the next month, about 1.2 million people worldwide will visit Qatar.
FIFA said at a meeting last month that it sold nearly three million tickets for the tournament. With 37% of ticket sales, the country that hosted the event sold the most tickets of any country.
Getting to know Doha, the capital, in the days before the first game. People can feel the excitement, and the streets lined with the flags of each country.
The country has spent billions on improving its infrastructure, and the roads are already busy. People from Saudi Arabia will only need ti drive across the border. People can see FIFA shuttle buses zipping up and down the streets.