a World Cup like no other

The competition which begins on Sunday promises to be atypical and complicated for the Blues.

This Sunday, at a time when autumn begins to give way little by little to winter, opens the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. In 22 editions, it is the first time in its history that the most famous sporting event in the world – with the Olympic Games – takes place in winter.

The main reason for this atypical calendar is simple: in the usual period of the World Cup, between June and July, temperatures are around 40°C in the Persian Gulf peninsula. Chosen in 2010 by Fifa as the host country for the competition, Qatar had even designed and built air-conditioned stadiums. But, in 2015, Fifa finally decided to change the dates of the event to shift it to winter in order to find acceptable conditions for playing a football match.

Under fire from critics

In addition to this climate issue, the 2022 World Cup has also crystallized many criticisms since its award to Qatar. The often unworthy working conditions of the workers who worked on the construction of the stadiums, the fatal accidents on the construction sites, the human rights situation (denounced by several NGOs), the exceeding of the carbon footprint or even the suspicions of corruption during the FIFA vote are so many cobblestones thrown into the sea of ​​hydrocarbons surrounding the small emirate in the Middle East. As large as Île-de-France, Qatar nevertheless possesses extraordinary financial power. Since the awarding of the World Cup in 2010, the country has worked hard to forge an international image through sport: takeover of PSG, organization of the world handball championship, creation of the beIN Sports channel and even sponsorship of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. An overactivity perfectly controlled by Qatar, which does not hesitate to put its hand in its pocket to promote its status as a great sporting nation.

The big city boycott

It is in this disturbed context that the World Cup begins, creating even before the kick-off of the first match, an unspeakable feeling of unease in many Western societies. In recent weeks, the media and social networks have even raised the specter of a boycott. Long reserved for politics (boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow by the United States, Japan, Canada or Germany; then of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles by the USSR and the countries of the Soviet bloc), the “boycott” of Qatar takes more of a social, human and ethical form. And if no qualified country has decided to boycott this World Cup sportingly, many local initiatives have emerged to protest against Qatar. In France, most major cities – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, Toulouse or Strasbourg – have taken the decision not to broadcast matches on giant screens. Exit popular fervor and fan zones. Welcome to the hushed world of fans confined to their homes in front of their TV screens. Last month, an Odoxa poll for RTL indicated that 65% of French people might not watch matches. A high figure which could however quickly fall depending on the potential course of the France team.

A heavy extra-sporting context

In view of this heavy atmosphere, we would almost forget that a leading sporting competition will be played between now and the final on December 18. But difficult, there too, to find real grounds for hope for our Blues, yet defending champions since their victory in 2018. The double world champions, still trained by Didier Deschampspresent themselves in Qatar without sporting certainty and in a heavy extra-sporting context marked by tensions around the convention of the rights to the image of the players or the audit ordered by the Minister of Sports, following suspicions of cases of sexual harassment at the French Football Federation (FFF) involving in particular its president, Noel Le Graet. So many difficulties that have indirectly undermined the last months of the Blues.

Reasons for hope for the Blues

Sportingly, the case also seems complicated. Euro 2021 ended in an inglorious defeat against Switzerland in 8are of final. And the year 2022 will have been that of poor results for the France team, which has chained poor performances in the League of Nations, narrowly avoiding its relegation from the European elite. Injury packages from Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, in particular, could seriously handicap the Blues, as these players have been true pillars of the team since 2018. Moreover, it has been sixty years, since Pelé’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962, that no nation has succeeded to retain his title. A statistic of which Didier Deschamps is aware, but which he hopes to exorcise.

To do this, the coach can count on undeniable assets, including the best attacking duo in the world. Karim Benzemacrowned with his recent Ballon d’Or, and Kylian Mbappe, the star of PSG, form a tandem that the whole planet envies us. If this duo manages to be well supported by a Antoine Griezmann found, a Olivier Giroud decisive, a defense to the height and a Hugo Lloris impassable, then France could hope to succeed itself and inscribe a third star on its jersey.

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