The FIFA World Cup, that quadrennial spectacle of soccer madness that holds fans around the world in its spell for a month, is set to begin Sunday in the unlikely setting of Qatar.
Soccer’s ruling body, FIFA, picked Qatar despite its hot climate and human rights concerns that have triggered condemnation around the world. But that wasn’t the only problem.
They also had to adjust the timing because of the location. Normally a summer tournament, this World Cup is being held from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18 because average summer temperatures in Quatar exceed 100 degrees. As a result, many of the world’s major soccer leagues had to split their seasons in half to accommodate a month for their players to participate in the tournament.
In addition, this week, the country decided at the last minute to ban alcohol sales around the stadiums that are hosting matches causing consternation among sponsors and fans.
“We all get so excited every four years to watch the best teams in the world go after the best prize, the biggest trophy in the world,” said Marcelo Balboa, a former Colorado Rapids star who played in the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups for the U.S, acknowledging the controversies surrounding this year’s tournament. “Hopefully we will be able to enjoy it all over the world in peace.”
Many games will be played early in the morning in Denver, some as early as 3 a.m., because time in Qatar is 10 hours ahead. At least weather won’t be cause for concern.
“Everything I’ve heard, the stadiums are awesome,” Balboa said. “They’re air-conditioned. Players love it. They cannot use the heat as an excuse.”
The next World Cup in 2026 will be jointly hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
This time, Balboa believes, the favorites to win are Brazil, Belgium, England, Argentina and France, the defending champion. Games will be televised by Fox and its sports channel, FS1, as well as on the Fox Sports app.
Soccer fans want to know where the good watch parties will be, though.
“If you are a World Cup fan of any color or nationality, you want to watch it in an environment that is with other crazy fans,” said Victor Arango, a spokesman for Maria Empanada restaurants.
We have some suggestions:
British Bulldog, 2052 Stout St., 303-295-7974
Soccer fans know the Bulldog is always a great place to watch soccer, but that means the place could be full for big games. …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – News