This soccer-mad L.A. Latina has attended seven World Cups. Qatar will make it eight, and she knows the country’s culture well. And then there’s a familiar face on the sideline.
“My dad,” she says. “He’s been a soccer coach for years.”
She laughs, then says it more seriously: “In the States, I’m really proud of that, but in Qatar, nobody cares, so it’s cool.”
She’s never been to a World Cup before, and has never watched a game on TV. But on Tuesday night, when the U.S. and Qatar meet in the World Cup’s final at the Rose Bowl, she’ll be one of the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Americans who will see a match on a big screen as one of the country’s biggest news stories unfolds in front of them.
“I can’t believe the world is going to watch this,” she said.
How many people will see this match?
That’s a question that no one is really asking. But on the day before Friday’s final game, the U.S. and Qatar, both members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, have agreed to put on a big-screen television broadcast for around 100,000 fans worldwide. The final between the U.S. and Qatar is the culmination of an amazing, decade-long rivalry between the soccer powerhouses of the United States and Qatar, which were originally awarded the 2022 World Cup on April 28, 2018, by FIFA, the sport’s world governing body.
The U.S. had a choice to make: Either allow Qatar to host the event, in a bid that would have set a precedent for the rest of the region, or deny it based on its human rights policies. FIFA’s decision was unanimous — but if there was a split vote on Qatar, that would be grounds for a revote and the team would have been awarded. A revote would require Congress to convene, which is unlikely given the Democratic majority in both houses. The vote was supposed to take place in May, but that was delayed as the country was under fire over their decision to expel two U.S. citizen scholars from Qatar in June — and a year after the decision was made. As a result,