World Cup: What's Now and What's to Come?
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup is the most coveted tournament in soccer with millions of fans watching games live and billions watching on the internet. The first World Cup was hosted in 1930 by Uruguay in South America.
Previously, the only international soccer games were the Summer Olympics, but FIFA, the international governing body of football, decided they wanted to create a tournament just for soccer where the best of the best would come to battle it all out on the field. With only 16 nations competing in the first tournament, the host country of Uruguay took home the win. The tournament was hosted every four years from then on, and more and more countries joined in the competition each time.
In 2022, Qatar is hosting the 22nd World Cup making them the first Middle Eastern country to host. The tournament is being held in eight venues across five cities with 32 teams participating. Over the course of the tournament, 64 matches will be played with the final being held on December 18 at Lusail Stadium.
When Qatar was first announced to host in 2010, instant controversy and criticism arose. Allegations of bribery of FIFA officials and debate over human rights led to conflicts. Due to Islamic law being the base of Qatar’s legislation, there are strict penal codes over homosexuality, which raised fear for many players and visitors. The Qatari Embassy released a statement, however, saying everyone will be welcome to watch the World Cup in Qatar, but they ask visitors to respect their culture. Furthermore, Qatar’s hot and humid weather is not fit for a summer tournament, so the tournament is being played in November and December, overlapping with the professional play for many players coming from different European leagues.
Many rumors have been brewing in the soccer world that this might be the last World Cup for some of the greatest and most beloved players. Making his World Cup debut in 2006, Lionel Messi is currently playing in his fifth consecutive tournament for Argentina. He has publicly stated that Qatar will be his final World Cup. Similarly, Cristiano Ronaldo has played in five consecutive cups starting in 2006. Neither Messi nor Ronaldo has been able to bring home the sought after title and gold trophy. Brazilian Forward, Neymar, has played in two World Cups and has hinted that this may be his final ever World Cup saying he will play like it's his last.
In June of this year, FIFA officially announced that the World Cup will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026, with stadiums in 16 cities in America including Los Angeles, Miami and New York and five other cities across Canada and Mexico. Making a huge mark for soccer, this will be the first time the World Cup will be simultaneously held in 3 different countries and will be the largest World Cup in FIFA history. There will be 16 more countries competing in the 2026 than at the first 48-team World Cup.