World Cup celebration
Qatar lost its FIFA World Cup debut to Ecuador on Sunday, but as the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament, it has sparked a wave of pride across the region. Fans in the Middle East celebrate a historic World Cup moment.
From cafes in Erbil to pubs in Istanbul and regions in Gaza City, energized spectators assembled around TV screens in front of the initial apparatus of a competition some expectation will break stereotypes of the Islamic world.
Fans old and new drank tea at a café in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, as they discussed the merits of the participating teams and the grandest football tournament in the world coming to Qatar.
According to Rasul Farid, 26, his first World Cup experience came in 2010, when South Africa hosted the finals.
He stated to Al Jazeera, “I did not expect [in 2010] that one day an Arab country would host the World Cup.”The fact that the World Cup will be held in an Arab nation will give a different impression of us, one that is not based on stereotypes.I’m here to help Qatar’s team.
According to Khalil Ahmed, 29, he attended the 2006 international football festival in Germany for the first time.
I had no idea that one day it would take place in an Arab nation.I believed that the World Cup was exclusive to the West and the United States, not to us.
The opening match was watched by Ali Kareem, 22, in Iskan, a traditional Erbil neighborhood known for streaming football games.When Iraq won the Asian Cup in 2007 and he started celebrating in the streets with his father and friends, those are his earliest football memories.
He said, “I love [football], and we are very happy that the World Cup is being held in an Arab country,” and he also said he would back Brazil.
Despite Turkey’s national team’s failure to qualify for the 32-team tournament, football fans in the country prepared to follow this year’s tournament.
On Sunday evening, the Corner Irish Pub in the heart of Istanbul’s bustling Beyoglu district was packed with football fans watching Qatar vs. Ecuador, the World Cup’s opening match.There were both locals and tourists present, and it appeared that the majority of people were supporting Ecuador.
The pub’s manager, Zafer, told Al Jazeera, “We’ll show all [the matches] throughout the month in English.” He also said that he was betting on Argentina to win the cup.
Al Jazeera was informed by veteran sports journalist Ersoy Ozdem that he would be cheering on Argentina throughout the competition.
He stated that he believed the World Cup could be held in any nation, but he noted issues with the competition’s timing, which occurred in the middle of the European club season.
Ozdem said, “The World Cup cannot be held in November in my opinion, because we aren’t used to it.” He also said that a lot of players are injured and won’t be able to play right now.
The Oranje is supported by Turkish journalist and author Tulay Demir, who was born and raised in the Netherlands.
Demir stated to Al Jazeera, “Although I think Brazil will win the cup, as someone who is half-Dutch I am very happy to know that my country is part of it.”Demir plans to travel to the Netherlands this week and attend a friend’s bar in the town of Dieren to watch her team play Ecuador on Wednesday.
Demir said that the World Cup being held in a Muslim country is very important to her. However, she was concerned about the main controversy surrounding the tournament, which is how migrant workers in Qatar are treated.