You know Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. But you may not have heard of Madhu Bollapally, Rajendra Prabhu Mandolji, Ramesh Kalladi or Hardaljit Singh. They are but four Indians who have lost their in Qatar, in the run-up to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
India may not have qualified for the FIFA World Cup but countless nameless, faceless hands have built the stadiums and roads on which the superstar footballers will tread at Qatar 2022.
According to a report in The Guardian, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India and its neighbouring countries have died in Qatar since FIFA awarded them the 2022 World Cup.
That is not all.
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The awarding of the quadrennial showpiece to Qatar was in itself a controversial affair. Once Qatar 2022 got the official seal as hosts, the logistical dilemma of having the World Cup in 50°C summer heat promoted the tournament to be shifted to the winter window for the first time ever.
When the question arose as to why would Qatar even want to host the FIFA World Cup – Sportswashing was suggested as the ultimate end goal.
Come November 20, 2022, all of that will not matter.
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The glitz and glamour of the bright light engulfing the first-ever FIFA World Cup in the Gulf will wash over the controversies.
The aforementioned Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar will centre stage.
Defending champions France, and their plethora of stars of African origin, will enter as firm favourites yet again. England, who have been on the precipice of finally bringing football back ‘home’ will fancy their chances. So will Spain and Germany, with youthful teams, as the winners of the previous editions before Les Blues.
Portugal will want to win it for Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina would love to do the same for Lionel Messi. Neymar will strive to come out of the shadows of Messi and Ronaldo and countless other Brazilian stars before him and deliver the most prized trophy.
The Netherlands, Croatia Belgium, Uruguay, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea will hope of bigger teams to slip up so they can stake a claim to being the best as the list of also rans – Poland, Ghana, Ecuador, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Morocco, Serbia, Canada, Wales, Costa Rica, Tunisia Australia, Cameroon, Poland, Senegal and USA – will want to leave a mark.
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Football on the grandest stage is expected to attract thousands of fans to Qatar irrespective of what’s happened in the build-up. All that will matter will be the beautiful game, however ugly the background looks.