22.2 C
Brunei
Monday, December 5, 2022
22.2 C
Brunei
Monday, December 5, 2022
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    World Cup countdown enters final week

    DOHA (AFP) – The week-long countdown to the World Cup in Qatar began yesterday as the world’s leading footballers focussed their attention on one of the most controversial tournaments in history.

    The first World Cup to be held in the Arab world will kick off on Sunday when the host nation face Ecuador.

    It marks the culmination of Qatar’s extraordinary campaign to first win the vote to land the tournament and then embark on a spending spree of tens of billions of dollars to build stadiums and infrastructure.

    Holding football’s showpiece event in a desert state has necessitated an unprecedented reorganisation of the international football calendar, shifting the World Cup from its normal slot in the northern hemisphere summer to avoid the Gulf’s scorching heat.

    Domestic leagues will pause for six weeks to allow the tournament to take place, but preparation time is short.

    While the players packed their bags joined up with their international teammates, the spotlight on Qatar intensified.

    The country of barely three million people, one of the world’s biggest producers of natural gas, has spent lavishly.

    New stadiums cost more than USD6.5 billion and a driverless metro system with a price tag of USD36 billion serves five of the eight venues.

    Some estimates put total infrastructure spending over the past decade at USD200 billion.

    Organisers have predicted more than one million fans will travel to Qatar and they have responded to concerns about a lack of accommodation by using three cruise ships as floating hotels.

    They are fully booked for the first two weeks of the tournament.

    Organisers say that 2.9 million of the 3.1 million tickets have been sold and fans have been waiting outside the FIFA ticketing centre hoping scarce tickets become available for top games.

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