World Cup’s “Forgotten Team” lies buried in the concrete stadiums that were built on their backs. These are the workers who slaved away in death-defying heat and abysmal living conditions just so an oil-rich Arab emirate could boast about its accomplishments to a world dazzled by the stadiums.
The newspaper was pointing to hundreds of thousands of Nepalis, Indians, Sri Lankans, and Pakistanis who were recruited as an army of migrant workers to remake Qatar for its World Cup moment.
The western media merely shrugged its shoulders as 6,500 Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese, and Sri Lankans died to build the concrete jungle that would house the audiences of Europe and the West.
That is from Tarek Fatah a well-known Canadian writer who was born in Pakistan writing for Toronto Sun.
Here is the story about the change of timing for the World Cup.
“Heat is not and will not be an issue.” That was Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of Qatar’s World Cup bid, speaking in December 2010, right after his tiny Gulf nation had done the unthinkable: Won the right to host a global soccer tournament for which it had neither the space, nor the infrastructure nor a suitable climate.
It was, obviously, a lie, although it took FIFA more than four years to accept that fact. By 2015, soccer’s governing body had determined that holding a World Cup in the summer in Qatar would present a “highly critical risk” to participants, including visitors just watching from the stands. FIFA figured this out after a six-month investigation, instead of simply asking literally anyone who spent time in the region in the summer.
Rather than admit their ridiculous mistake and move the tournament elsewhere, FIFA instead moved it from the traditional June-July window to one that begins this weekend, disrupting the biggest soccer leagues in the world, forcing them to cram matches into tight schedules and causing inevitable injury woes, and devaluing costly broadcast rights. It’s still searingly hot in Qatar, but now it’s just brutally uncomfortable instead of potentially deadly.
Now let us look at the good things about this World Cup in 2022 which for the first time is being played in November instead of the games taking place in June-July like they always do.
First are the teams that will be putting up a show that will be watched by more than a billion people across the world. No other sporting event gets that attention.
Let us start with some African teams in the World Cup. I don’t want to say anything bad about the Kenyan football but right now frankly we do not have a football team leave alone a football organization in our country. That is a long story. So forget that and let’s deal with what is in front of us and the world of football which is always beautiful.
Start with Senegal as our best hope to do good stuff in this World Cup. Senegal is the champion of Africa after winning the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. There are so many pieces in that team worth talking about by any football lover in the world.
They have some key pieces in every part of the team structure. We know Sado Mane is out with an injury but that is part of football. So we are not going to be crying about our golden football hero who ranks among the best footballers and scorers in the world.
He proved it by helping Liverpool to victory together with his great teammates like our beloved Mohamed Salah to every cup winnable in the world of football including the European Championship trophy.
And don’t forget that it was our own Divock Origi who scored the winning goal for the Liverpool European Championship trophy in the 218-2019 UEFA cup. I can never forget the craziness of Jorgen Klopp and the whole team that happened after Origi scored that goal.
Back to the Senegal team. In defense, they have one of the best in the world in that position. That is Kalidou Koulibaly who now plays for my favourite team Chelsea Football Club.
He is as good as they came in that position and the whole world knows that.
Behind Koulibaly in goal for Senegal is Édouard Mendy, one of the best goalkeepers in the world today. He won the UEFA championship against the formidable Manchester City team in 2021.
Then followed that by winning the African Cup of Nations with a massive penalty save in the shoutout and then back at Chelsea he won the World Club Cup and became a legend in football. In the middle field of the Senegal team are very young and upcoming players playing all over Europe. Even without Sado Mane, Senegal will be a handful. It is going to be great to watch their games. We are on.
Then we have Cameroon in the tournament and that is great for the continent. The indomitable lions are never a joke in the World Cup.
It is the coach of the Cameroon team Rigobert Song himself a formidable player for the national team way back that stands out, particularly with the work he did with the team at the African Cup of Nations in 2021. African countries rarely hire African coaches and Cameroon may just have changed that with the work Song has been doing as a coach for his country.
The we have Morocco in the line-up and we will see what they can pull off. I only know Hakim Ziyech in that team because he is a genius of a player with his left foot shots that are unstoppable.
Then, of course, we have Tunisia which is never a pushover in African football but now we have to see them on the world stage. So yes the continent has very competent and good teams on this world stage and it is show time right now. Bring it on.
In the next piece in this look at the World Cup, we are going to look at the big names and big matches coming up. Today we wanted to talk about how the African continent is featured in the big event that happens once every four years.
In the third and last piece, we will look at what a truly continental African team would look like including Africans like Antonio Rüdiger (Germany), Romalu Lukaku, (Belgium), Alphonso Davies (Canada), Zinedine Zidane who are Europeans primarily by accident would just beat up everybody in world football.
This is a three-piece series over the World Cup journey. And we will cover the big stories in the games as they go.
Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada