Bye Bye Qatar, hosts to  one-of-a-kind World Cup

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Hamad International Airport, Doha

Wadae Qatar 2022! Farewell Qatar 2022! After 32 days in the State of Qatar, it is time to leave. A World Cup initially embrolled in pre-tournament controversies have come and gone.

What a tournament! It was a one-of-a-kind World Cup! Even as FIFA also admitted, there may be none of that kind again.

It was the first time it was possible for media men to watch two matches in a day. It was the first time the World Cup had taken place in the Middle East and the Arab world.

It is also going the to be the last time the World Cup will have 32 teams. So as we say bye bye to Qatar 2022, so also it is adieu to the 32-team format which had been in place since France ‘98.

From the “United” – US, Canada and Mexico 2026, an akward 48-team format will debut.

Undoubtedly bye bye Qatar 2022 also means adieu to the duo of stars that have captured global attention in the past 15 years.

Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly be glarring absentees at the 2026 edition. Who then will pair Kylian Mbappe to set up anothe rivalry worth of getting global attention?

Goodbye also to La’eeb, Qatar 2022 World Cup’s mascot, an anthropomorphic ghutra (traditional Arabic headdress) that appears to be omnipresent in Qatar.

La’eeb, according to Fifa, can be credited with a part in Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal, and is “indescribable”. Everyone is invited to interpret what it looks like.

To some, the mascot represnts  a floating white sheet. On the day after the final match, there was a dramatic change in human traffic.

Did the crowd just disappear overnight? In the previous days, the metro was a beehive of activities. Crowd, mostly football fans would mimick the event attendants  in sky blue tracksuit who were directing and assisting passengers to navigate their ways through the metro lines.

Armed with hand-held public address system, the event managers would blare “Metro this way!”, pointing to a particular direction. Soon, like a theatre, the crowd would also mimic them.

The scenes at the beautifully constructed 37-stop metro network feature also features convenience stores, artisanal cafes and even a bubble tea joints were very thrilling.

But on Monday, the metro looked deserted, making one to feel lonely. No more  “Metro, this way”.

Even the ever bubbling Media Centre was deserted. The security personnel that  screened every entrant had suddenly disappeared. The facilities had been dismantled. The ever bubbling massive structure which is the Qatar National Convention Centre have suddenly become a ghost arena.

No televison sets, no internets no printer and no snacks and drinks. The personnels have disappeared. 

Yet the previous day, the naratives were different. The beautiful city of Lusail bubbled all through Sunday  before and after the final match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

No doubt, the State of Qatar has exceeded the wildest imaginations.

Those who doubted the ability of the Gulf state to host a competition of that magnitude were roundly proved wrong.

The state of facilities were excellent. Yet, most of the stadiums are scheduled to be dismantled or scaled down.

The Stadium 974, ingenously built with maritime containers were already  being dismantled at the close of the Round of 16.

Yet, that stadium would have been a dream facility in most parts of the world.

On Sunday, Lusail was figuratively under siege by army of fans. Most of course are from Argentina, the country with most travelling fans. It would have been a monumental disaster had fate failed them.

At the Lusail metro station, the disembarking thousand of pasengers crammed the the U-shaped overhead bridge linking the two terminal buildings to the Lusail Stadium.

Yet the metro runs every three minutes making the station heavily congested ahead of the titanic Argentina-France final match.

The surging crowd at the station formed densely column of moving objects, making movement of a 50 metre passage to take nearly 20 minutes to transverse.

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