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Qatar wins in Switzerland

It was a Swiss B-11. Nevertheless, the victory of the Qatari in Lugano is a huge success. Will the World Cup host be able to compete until 2022?

Mohamed Salah celebrated the historic victory on the substitutes’ bench – not the miracle striker of FC Liverpool, Qatar’s football is not that far. The namesake (but his surname is Elneel) plays for Al Arabi in Doha and has not yet celebrated a success that is anything like the Emirate’s 1-0 win over Switzerland in the Lugano test match.

“My boys are right to celebrate in the dressing room,” said coach Félix Sánchez Bas. No more than 4170 spectators had gotten lost in the Stadio di Cornaredo to see embarrassingly listless World Cup last sixteenists against the selection of the host of the 2022 World Cup.

For Sánchez Bas, however, it was a thunderclap: “This was an opportunity for us to show that we can compete with some of the best players in the world,” said the 43-year-old Spaniard. It was only a few minutes ago that Akram Afif had finished a very elegant counterattack in the 86th minute. First a climber, then he put the ball past the goalkeeper and pushed in casually. The man, whose last name is read backwards for fun, celebrated the winning goal for number 96 in the world rankings against number eight with a jump over the rail.


Something had been shaken, as could be seen from the horror of the losers. The “Katarstrophe” was reported in the Swiss media on Thursday, “sackcloth weak” was the idea, a fiasco, an oath of revelation. After all, with Fabian Schär, Granit Xhaka, Michael Lang, Haris Seferovic or Xherdan Shaqiri, regulars of coach Vladimir Petkovic had also been in action at least temporarily.

For Qatar it was a step on the way to their declared goal. “We have a young team and we are growing together,” said Sánchez Bas, who once played for FC Barcelona. “These games enable us to reach the level we need. The expensive World Cup in the desert, which will open on 21 November 2022 and cost 23 billion euros, should not end in embarrassment.

Fifa, the international football association, recently blocked a path to competitiveness. Players will not be allowed to change associations like clubs, a request from Cape Verde, supported by Qatar, was rejected. In 2015, Qatar created a multinational world-class team for the Handball World Championship in its own country, which even reached the finals (and at Austria’s expense). A year later, at the Olympic Games in Rio, the Serb, Bosnian, Montenegrin, French and Cuban-born team had already finished in the quarter-finals against the later bronze medal winners from Germany.

In football, the Emirate has to follow other paths. Switzerland presented Qatar with an interesting offer, which also included a “return match” before the home World Cup. In addition, the country is trying to spread the few talents it has with a financial tailwind in Europe. The success is small. In the Belgian branch AS Eupen, run by the ultra-modern athletes’ forge Aspire Academy Doha, the Qatari talents have not played since their promotion to the Jupiler Pro League. Scorer Akram Afif belongs to FC Villarreal, but is on loan to his home country. There is no such thing as an international player, let alone a legionnaire in a halfway respected league.

Qatar still under suspicion of having bought the World Cup

Moscow. A few hours before the final of the World Cup in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has symbolically handed over the business to the organizer of the next tournament 2022, the Emir of Qatar. The Kremlin leader symbolically presented Sheikh Tamim with a football in Moscow on Sunday. He is convinced that Qatar will host the World Cup just as well as Russia, Putin said. Well, that is doubtful. The fact is that the final round in four years’ time will take place under completely different circumstances. And whether it will actually be hosted in Qatar seems by no means certain.

Infantino thinking about increasing the number of teams to 48

The desert state is still suspected of having bought the World Cup. Among other things, the US judiciary is investigating this case according to the anti-mafia law Rico. Should there be any tangible evidence of corruption in the World Cup awarding process in the coming months or years, the world federation Fifa around President Gianni Infantino would have to react in order to manoeuvre itself out of the line of fire. A re-allocation does not seem to be out of the question.

Even if the tournament were to take place in Qatar, the 2.7-million-population state might not remain the sole organiser – at least if Infantino is the place to go. The Swiss is still thinking out loud about increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48. Whether a country that is smaller than Schleswig-Holstein could meet this logistical challenge alone is doubtful.

Fifa boss recommends cooperation

Qatar could cooperate with Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, Infantino recently recommended. A proposal that seems almost cynical given the political tensions, as Qatar is isolated from its neighbors because of its supposed proximity to terrorist networks. Infantino, on the other hand, is said to be remarkably close to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It was only in March that he received a 25 billion dollar offer for the Club World Cup and Nations League. The driving force behind it: Saudi Arabia.

For the time being, however, everything is going according to plan in the FIFA cosmos. World Cup 2022 in Qatar, with four arenas in Doha and four other stadiums a maximum of 35 kilometres from the capital. Due to the enormous heat in the Persian Gulf, the tournament will take place for the first time in winter (21 November to 18 December), so that the game calendar must be turned completely to the left. The Bundesliga will also have to take a much longer break in winter than usual. Conditions that have always been viewed critically.

Organizers are nevertheless optimistic, of course.

The World Cup will be “unique and quite different than ever before”, according to the euphemistic description of Qatar. “We have no doubt that many fans will also come to Qatar from Europe,” said Vice-President Nassir al-Chatir, who dares to host a field of 48. The first World Cup in the Arab world will “arouse the curiosity of every fan”. Unless the judiciary first satisfies their curiosity about the supposedly corrupt machinations of FIFA.

Latest News

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have broken off diplomatic relations with Qatar since 5 June 2017. Other states, including Yemen, Mauritania, Chad, the Comoros, the Maldives and Mauritius have followed suit.
Saudi Arabia has closed its land, air and sea borders with Qatar and interrupted land, air and sea transport, and air and sea transport with Qatar has also ceased from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. These states are also denying Qatar Airways landing and overflight rights and have banned their own airlines from flying to Qatar. This has implications for air and maritime transport, particularly in the Gulf States.

Since November 2017, Bahrain has required Qatari nationals and foreign residents with residence permits to hold an entry visa, which must be applied for electronically in advance, see Bahrain Travel and Security Information.
German citizens who intend to travel from Doha via Oman or Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates should inform themselves in advance about the current entry regulations of these countries.
Travelers via Doha HIA International Airport are advised to contact their airline or tour operator directly regarding their travel connections


Switzerland embarrasses itself against Qatar

The Swiss footballers are punished for a listless performance: they lose the test match against number 96 of the world rankings Qatar 0:1. It is the low point in the Petkovic era.

Fabian Schär didn’t want to talk around the hot porridge for long after the game. “It was a bad performance from us, so we are not allowed to play in the national team,” said the defensive patron, who will be suspended against Belgium and had played with a broken nose against the Qatari. Schär, however, was one of the few Swiss players to have at least reached the usual level of performance. He was powerless when he scored in the 86th minute. The substitute Sow had had the ball taken from him, the pass into the depths Afif exploited without effort.

No desire for football

The goal against was the end of a dreary evening, which now stands as a big, thick Tolggen in the Swiss pure edition. Ottmar Hitzfeld once lost to Luxembourg at the beginning of his term in office, now Vladimir Petkovic also has his Luxembourg, but since yesterday evening it has been Qatar.

That this would happen had been suggested in the first half, which only once inspired the sparse audience to move: to whistle when the players disappeared into the cabin. The displeasure had its good reasons. The Swiss disappointed all along the line. They had no tempo. They had no ideas. And above all, they didn’t seem to feel like it either. No desire for an evening that would have given some players the opportunity to recommend themselves for higher tasks.

Petkovic had once again sent a team onto the pitch that had never played together before; firstly because of injury-related absences, and secondly because of a desire to experiment for the future. This is how Loris Benito made his debut, as did Leo Lacroix. Both solved their tasks properly, but without indicating that they could eventually belong to the tribe. Christian Fassnacht remained invisible in the first half, when he was supposed to make things move behind the storm in the centre, when he played on the right side in the second half, but lacked the guts to set an accent. Mario Gavranovic used his chance as an alternative for Haris Seferovic at the centre of the attack, just as Remo Freuler once again failed to prove that he belonged to the starting line-up. Above all, Petkovic had meant well by experimenting and trying out. The possibilities in the squad are obviously not as great as the Swiss coach believes.

When Xherdan Shaqiri joined the team in the second half, the Swiss game got a little better. But they didn’t want to score a goal. This was due to a lack of consistency, such as two attempts by Ajeti, who replaced Gavranovic, Qatar’s Goalie Hassan, and twice it was the goal frame that prevented the Swiss from scoring. But all in all it was not that the hosts wanted to show the 4200 spectators that they wanted to win this game against the tirelessly fighting Qatari. In the end you were just a little disappointed. Already on Sunday you can show that you can do better.

Petkovic: “No setback”.

“I am convinced that this defeat is not a setback,” Petkovic said. His team had not been mentally ready, but now everyone had understood that this was not the way to go. Petkovic was relaxed, he didn’t think that the game deserved to be looked at closely. He was still asked whether it was a disgrace or an industrial accident. “Something in between, perhaps a company embarrassment,” Petkovic said. An apt word creation. You have to remember it: Company embarrassment.

Qatar wants to help Turkey out of crisis

The Emir of Qatar, who has a good relationship with the Turkish president Erdoğan, wants to help Turkey with investments of 15 billion dollars. According to him, the money will be used to finance economic projects – but according to Turkish government circles, the money will mainly flow into the financial markets.

Turkey is receiving support from Qatar in the midst of the severe currency crisis: the emir of the Gulf state, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan direct investments of 15 billion dollars. Qatar said the emirate would make a number of investments and finance economic projects. According to information from Turkish government circles, however, the money will mainly flow into the financial markets and go to banks.

Turkey and Qatar have traditionally maintained good relations with each other. The government in Ankara also held to the leadership in Doha when Saudi Arabia, among others, cut its diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar last year. A spokesman at Erdoğans advertised on Twitter for the cooperation announced on Wednesday. He emphasized that the Turkish economy is on safe ground and will be strengthened by recent developments. Experts on the financial markets had taken a completely different view in recent days and weeks.

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