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Qatar loses to Iran

Barring a miracle, Qatar’s national football team will not be playing in next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The team suffered a 1-0 loss to Iran last night in a home game defeat attended by thousands of fans.

This means Qatar is now at the very bottom of its six-team group, behind China and Syria. Iran meanwhile has moved to first place.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Only the top two teams in the group will automatically qualify for the 2018 tournament.

‘Bad situation’

Acknowledging the implications, Qatar Coach Jorge Fossati told AFP he hadn’t yet done the math, but “for sure we are back in a very bad, bad situation.”

Competing in Russia had been an important goal for Qatar, whose team has never qualified to play in the World Cup.

QFA

Qatar football coach Jorge Fossati

Qatar will automatically get a chance to participate in 2022 because the nation is hosting that tournament.

But in recent history, no team has ever not earned its first chance to compete beforehand.

Rollercoaster

The road to Russia has been a rollercoaster of a ride for the national team, which suffered three straight losses last fall (including to Iran in September).

Spirits were low then, but went up again after Qatar beat Syria in October.

QFA

Qatar and Syria match

Now however, with only four points and a handful of games to go, things look very dire.

The disappointment was palpable last night, when the home crowd booed Iran coach Carlos Queiroz off the field as he blew everyone a kiss, according to AFP.

Thoughts?

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar could be the last country to solo host the World Cup, as FIFA prepare to accept applications from nations who want to co-host the 2026 games.

Speaking to media yesterday while in Doha, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the tournament could be held by up to four countries, according to Reuters.

This is because many nations incur a heavy financial toll preparing for and hosting the World Cup.

SCDL

Qatar Foundation stadium rendering

Qatar for example is spending a staggering $500 million a week on tournament and infrastructure-related projects ahead of 2022.

“We will encourage co-hosting for the World Cup because we need FIFA to show we are reasonable and we have to think about sustainability long-term,” Infantino said.

Bidding for the games could begin later this year.

White elephants

The question of sustainability has dogged Qatar since it was selected as a World Cup host in 2010.

The country is building most of its stadiums from scratch, as well as hundreds of hotels that could end up sitting empty after the tournament.

Gianni Infantino visits Khalifa International Stadium.

FIFA

FIFA President Gianni Infantino during a 2016 visit to Khalifa International Stadium.

According to BBC, Infantino said he is confident Qatar’s projects will be ready on time. But he added that “a lot remains to be done.”

And previously, Qatar officials have said they don’t want to end up with any “white elephants.”

Instead, the country plans to host several other sporting tournaments to make use of their facilities before and after the World Cup.

Thoughts?

All photos courtesy of QFA

In its first major win in five years, AC Milan claimed the Italian Super Cup in Doha last night after beating Juventus 4-3 on penalties.

Juventus took the lead in the first half of the match, which was held at the crowded Al Sadd Sports Club stadium.

But AC Milan evened the score 1-1 by the end of the game and the tie was maintained during overtime, leading the teams into a penalty shootout.

Prior to the match, authorities had warned fans to play nice, and there appear to have been few complaints during the game.

According to QNA, the game was attended “by a number of sheikhs, ministers and guests of the country as well as a large audience of fans of the two clubs.”

Did you attend the finals last night? Thoughts?