The new year is approaching, which also means the preparation of World Cup 2022 is underway. It is not only about Qatar national team, which will be participating in Copa America next summer in Argentina and Colombia but also the organising commitee. Recently, FIFA as the football governing body worldwide through the President Gianni Infantino, has confirmed that a World Cup rehearsal friendly tournament, Arab Cup, will be held in Qatar in December 2021. He also added the importance of this regional tournament.
“Through football, this tournament will unite over 450 million people from across the region.”
It has been reported that there are 22 Arabian national teams joining this tournament. They are Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Those 22 nations will be reduced to 16 teams at the final round through the initial knockout games. These selected teams will be divided into four groups and only the top two of each group could progress to the quarter final. Overall, there will be 32 matches in the competition held precisely in 18 days.
For the host, it will be more crucial for the governing body and the commitee than their national team itself. The president of Qatar Football Association (QFA), Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Thani, stated the necessity of this tournament as follows, “(It) will be an important milestone and a final test of our preparations, only one year away from us hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the region.”
Arab Nations Cup itself has been held nine times but not on an irregular basis from the year of 1963 to 2012. Apparently, this tournament could be the reason why FIFA Club World Cup, which was originally scheduled a year before World Cup 2022 as the trial event, has been shifted to February next year.
In the previous years, the trial tournament had been made regular and official by FIFA, through FIFA Confederations Cup which normally took place a year before the World Cup. Unfortunately, the competition was abolished after the 2017 edition due to the schedule complexity as the domino effect of Qatar 2022 which will be held on December instead of in the summer to avoid the competing teams play in the extremely hot weather. In addition, Confederations Cup has been able to attract global attention (and sponsors), especially in 2017 when the so-called ‘Germany B squad’ proved that they could win it quite easily .