Friday, 14 October 2022

The rich history of Fifa World Cup trophy

The biggest prize in football went through an incredible journey that included war, thefts, and a heroic dog.

The Fifa World Cup has a rich history that is as riveting as the many contests it has witnessed. Amid all the bravery, heartbreak, and jubilation, the World Cup trophy itself has a fascinating story to tell.

The most iconic trophy in all sports that is instantly recognized all across the globe has lived a tumultuous existence. In fact, the trophy itself is not even 50 years old, even though the World Cup was first played in 1930.

The World Cup trophy in display during the Fifa Congress in Doha. AFP

To know more about the trophy, we need to go all the back to the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay.

Jules Rimet Trophy (1930-1970)

The first football World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was made possible due to the efforts of Jules Rimet.

Rimet was the third president of Fifa and was instrumental in making the dream of a World Cup a reality. The trophy was created by French sculptor Abel Lafleur, 35cm in height and weighing 3.8kg. It was constructed with gold-plated sterling silver.

The trophy design featured a gold statuette of Nike - the Greek goddess of victory. Originally, the trophy was simply called 'Victory', and more popularly as the World Cup or Coupe du Monde.

In 1946, it was renamed the Jules Rimet Trophy in honor of the president. That the trophy survived was a miracle in itself. During World War II, the trophy was held by 1938 champions Italy. Italian vice-president of Fifa, Ottorino Barassi, took it upon himself to ensure the safety of the trophy, secretly removing it from the vault of a bank in Rome and hiding it in a shoebox under his bed during the entirety of the war.

Trophy stolen

Just four months before the 1966 World Cup in England, the trophy was stolen while on exhibition at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. Law enforcement agencies, including Scotland Yard, tried their best to recover the item but to no avail. One week after the theft, the trophy was randomly found wrapped in the newspaper lying next to a parked car by a dog named Pickles who was out on a walk with his owner.

Pickles became a national hero and received a medal and reward for the discovery. Thanks to the heroic canine, England captain Bobby Moore got to lift the original Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley Stadium after defeating West Germany in the final.

Trophy stolen again

Brazil won the World Cup for the third time in 1970 and was awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy permanently, as was the rule at the time. However, the original trophy was stolen for a second time in 1983 from the Brazilian Football Confederation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro and was never recovered.

Fifa World Cup Trophy (1974 - present)

After Brazil won the trophy permanently, a replacement was commissioned for the 1974 World Cup. Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga's submission was accepted. The trophy design sees human figures spiral up toward a golden replica of the world. The trophy is hollow on the inside.

Following the debacle involving the Jules Rimet Trophy, it was decided that the original Fifa World Cup trophy can't be won outright anymore.

It remains in Fifa's possession at its Zurich headquarters and is taken out only for trophy tours, World Cup main draws, and the final presentation. Winners of each World Cup are handed a gold-plated bronze replica, known as the World Cup Winners’ Trophy. They get to keep the replica.

How much does the World Cup trophy weigh?

The Fifa World Cup trophy is 6.175kg of 18-carat gold. It stands 36.5cm tall and has a circular base that is 13cm in diameter.

How much is it worth?

The value of the gold in the World Cup trophy itself is worth $250,000, according to current gold rates. Four years back, the original Fifa World Cup trophy was said to be worth $20 million according to some estimates, making it easily the most valuable trophy in sport.

Given the exponential growth in the sports memorabilia market after the pandemic, that value would have easily gone up by many multiples. The famous jersey worn by Argentine Diego Maradona when he scored the 'Hand of God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup was sold for $7.1 million in an auction earlier this year. 

(Source: The National)

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Messi says World Cup 2022 in Qatar will be his last

Argentina captain Lionel Messi said yesterday that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will “surely” be the last of his career. “It’s my last World Cup, surely. I feel good physically, I was able to do a very good pre-season this year, which I couldn’t do last year. It was essential to get to where I am, with a good state of mind and a lot of hope,” the 35-year-old told ESPN Argentina.

Messi, who is due to appear in his fifth World Cup, made his international debut in 2005 and has since won 164 caps for Argentina and is the country’s all-time record scorer with 90 goals. 

In the interview, which took place in Paris where Messi plays for Paris Saint-Germain, he admitted he was nervous about the impending tournament in Qatar. “There is anxiety, nerves about the World Cup,” he said. 

“We can’t wait for it to start.” 

Messi’s international debut as a substitute against Hungary in 2005 lasted just two minutes before he was sent off but he quickly established himself in the national team set-up and travelled to Germany for his first World Cup in 2006. 

He went on to play in the 2010 edition in South Africa, in 2014 in Brazil, where Argentina reached the final, and in 2018 in Russia.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be playing his fifth World Cup in Qatar. - AFP

The current side, under the management of Lionel Scaloni, has now gone 35 games without defeat and is likely to figure as one of the pre-tournament favourites for the Qatar tournament. 

“We have reached a good moment, with a very well-equipped and very strong group, but anything can happen,” said Messi. 

“All the games are very difficult. The favourites are not always the ones who end up winning or taking the path that one expected. Argentina is always a candidate because of its history and what it means. But we are not the only favourites, there are other teams that are above us.” 

Messi believes his team has a good chance of winning the tournament. “In a World Cup, anything can happen. All the matches are very tough. The favourites don’t always end up winning,” Messi said. 

“I don’t know if we’re the favourites, but Argentina is always a candidate because of its history. Now even more so because of the moment, we’re in, but we are not the favourites. I think there are other teams that are above us.”

I have been playing with the national team for a long time now,” Messi said. 

“There have been spectacular moments, like in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but we didn’t win and were criticised for not being champions. We did everything right until the finals.”

Messi said he was heading to Qatar with a positive outlook as the elder statesman in a team full of young talent who ended Argentina’s 28-year wait for an international trophy with their Copa America victory. 

“It’s been very hard, but in 2019 a new group with many young people came and won the Copa America. That helped us a lot,” he added.

Argentina faces the United Arab Emirates in their final warm-up match in November before playing Saudi Arabia in their opening Group C game at the World Cup on November 22. Mexico and Poland are the other teams in the group. 

Meanwhile, PSG coach Christophe Galtier allayed fears about a possible injury to Messi on Wednesday, saying the Argentine forward had asked to be substituted due to tiredness late in their 1-1 Champions League draw with Benfica.

Messi, who put PSG ahead in the 22nd minute before Benfica drew level through Danilo Pereira’s own goal, was replaced by Pablo Sarabia in the 81st minute. “He gestured saying he wanted to be substituted,” Galtier said. 

“After making a sprint, he felt tired. He came off because he felt tired and a fresh teammate was much better at that moment in the game.”

(Source: Gulf Times)

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Qatar World Cup 2022: Champions will take home $42 million prize money

A look at how much the top teams will earn during the finals, including preparation fees

The Fifa World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest sporting event on the planet. Nations from all continents fight tooth and nail to just gain the right to participate in the quadrennial event.

The 2018 tournament attracted a combined global viewership of 3.572 billion viewers – that is half the planet's population. According to Fifa, the final between France and Croatia alone attracted a combined global audience of 1.12 billion.

This year, 32 teams will once again fight for the ultimate prize. The venue is Qatar – the first time the finals has been staged in the Middle East.

Hosts Qatar will kick off the tournament at the Al Bayt Stadium on November 20 against Ecuador, with the final on December 18.


A total of eight venues will host matches during the finals. All venues have air conditioning systems, allowing fans and spectators to enjoy the proceedings in comfort. The venues are Lusail Stadium, Stadium 974, Al Thumama Stadium, Al Bayt Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium, Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Education City Stadium, and the Al Janoub Stadium.

Tournament duration

A total of 64 games will be played to decide the winners on December 18. This will be the last edition to involve 32 teams. The next World Cup in 2026 - to be held in United States, Mexico, and Canada – will see 48 teams participating.

Prize money

Fifa has set aside a total prize pool of $440 million for the World Cup 2022. The breakdown is as follows:

Champions: $42 million

Runners-up: $30 million

Third place: $27 million

Fourth place: $25 million

Fifth-eighth place: $68 million ($17 million per team)

Ninth-16th place: $104 million ($13 million per team)

17th-32nd place: $144 million ($9 million per team)

In addition, each team that has qualified will receive $1.5m ahead of the competition to cover preparation costs. In the 2018 edition, winners France took home a cheque of $38m.

(Source: The National

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Abu Samra border crossing expanded to 24 vehicle lanes

Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H E Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani visited the Abu Samra border crossing to check the arrangements put in place to facilitate fans' travel during the World Cup. 

The PM also inspected the recent expansion and development of facilities as well as the reception halls and equipment, designed and built with the latest technologies, to facilitate the process of receiving the tournament’s fans, the country’s guests, and visitors.

The PM was also briefed on the border crossing’s absorptive capacity and the working mechanism, in addition to the advanced services and protection systems used. He was also updated on security and safety procedures, and equipment to facilitate the arrival of fans for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by a number of Their Excellencies' senior officials in the security sector and the facilitators of the Abu Samra border crossing expansion project. 

On this occasion, Dr. Eng. Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi, President of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), said: “The port expansion works will serve travelers to and from Qatar with more than double the previous capacity by increasing the number of passenger vehicle service lanes from 9 to 24 lanes.”

He noted that internal air-conditioning systems have been added to the buildings of the customs inspection platforms for trucks and vehicles. 

Lt. Col. Muhammad Sultan Al Mannai, Vice-Chairman of the Permanent Committee for the Management of Abu Samra Border Port, said the port's development will contribute to facilitating travellers’ procedures and completing them smoothly and in a shorter time.

Works implemented within the Abu Samra Border Crossing project include developing the passports buildings to serve arrivals and departures, with an increased capacity from nine to 24 vehicles at the same time. Customs buildings for arrivals have also been developed from 28 to 36 vehicles.

As part of what has been implemented to serve the World Cup, a passenger hall has been constructed covering 10,000 square meters and has a capacity to serve 2,000 visitors per hour for arrivals and 2,000 visitors per hour for departures. Also, 44 passports and 22 customs inspection platforms will serve the fans coming to Qatar and provide them with comfort and safety. Temporary parking lots were also established to raise the capacity of the tournament fans’ parking spaces from 1,400 to 4,500, with the installation of a parking reservation system. 

The project includes 48 tourist tracks to serve 12,000 cars entering and leaving Qatar, in addition to road development works with a length of 4.5 km. 

Infrastructure development works included the development of sewage networks with a length of 1.3 km, and rainwater drainage networks with a length of 2.5 km. The project also included the implementation of 2 square kilometers of green spaces and beautification works for four roundabouts.

Security systems equipped with the latest technologies and the highest international standards have been installed at the port. The works also included renovating and adding a new security fence. 

Three separate lanes will be allocated for trucks only, in addition to providing truck parking lots serving 500 trucks with a total area covering 150,000 square meters.  Commercial truck inspection platforms have also been sealed and air-conditioned.

(Source: The Peninsula)

Monday, 10 October 2022

Qatar World Cup 2022: Where are all the teams staying?

Fans visiting the country could rub shoulders with some of the two dozen teams staying within 10km of each other

Boutique accommodations, universities, and luxury hotels await the 32 World Cup teams heading to Qatar to compete in one of the world's largest sporting events next month.

Twenty-four of these teams will be staying within 10km of Doha, providing fans with the opportunity to do some serious star spotting.

Qatar, Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel. Photo: The Torch Hospitality

New hotels have been opening under a soft-launch phase to prepare for the arrival of some of the most expensive footballers on the planet with tastes to match.

While each base camp reserved for national teams may differ, the one thing they have in common is five-star luxury served alongside some of the best training grounds possible.

Each team will have access to their own World Cup training facilities close to their hotel - referred to as each nation’s Team Base Camp (TBC) according to the organizing committee.

Each nation was given a variety of hotel options, with a first come, first served rule in effect if more than one country wanted the same venue.

Of the 32 teams, 24 will be staying close to Doha, while eight others, including England, Germany, Belgium, and Portugal, have preferred to stay further away from the frenzy of the center.

Group by group, these are the hotels that national teams will be calling home next month.


Qatar - Al Aziziyah Boutique Hotel

This opulent hotel backs onto the green spaces of the Aspire Park, and could easily be mistaken for a French chateau or country estate in middle England.

The property is fitting as an escape for the hosts to prepare in sumptuous surroundings with 139 rooms, a fully equipped gym, outdoor and indoor pools, and a spa.

Netherlands - St Regis, Doha

The classy Dutch will have to live up to their billing as one of the World Cup’s dark horses with an impressive recent run of form.

Their hotel matches the class of the Dutch teams of the past, with 335 rooms and an Olympic-sized swimming pool in which players can relax weary legs.

A new steakhouse, the Astor Grill, opened recently, while a huge selection of restaurants can be found at the nearby Al Gassar Resort.

Senegal – Duhail Handball Sports Hall

Less salubrious surroundings await Senegal, who have been allocated a sports hall from which to make their World Cup preparations.

The Duhail Handball Sports Hall opened in 2014 ahead of the World Men’s Handball championships a year later.

The Olympic standard venue sits alongside the adjacent Al Tarfa and Duhail districts.

Ecuador – Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha

‘La Tri’ will be staying close to Hamad International Airport at the Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha for the duration of their stay in the tournament.

The hotel is home to a variety of dining options, with Chinese restaurant Chi’Zen and Spanish-themed The Cellar sure to be popular choices for team staff.

The hotel has 400 rooms, 12 suits, a jacuzzi, a gym, and an outdoor pool.


England – Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar

This hotel by Tivoli sits next to the souq in Al Wakrah, around a 25-minute journey from the center of Doha.

Manager Gareth Southgate and the English FA took the decision to base the squad further out of Doha, to focus on the challenge ahead.

This boutique hotel has all the Arabic flair you would expect with stunning sea views and an all-day Mediterranean-style restaurant - Jarnen.

Iran – AlRayyan Hotel Doha, Curio Collection by Hilton

With direct access to the Mall of Qatar, this hotel is the perfect spot for players who may want to pick up souvenirs during their stay in Doha.

It also has an outdoor pool and gym to keep the squad in top condition for the difficult games ahead.

USA – Marsa Malaz Kempinski

The American national team will be based in the heart of The Pearl - Qatar, a man-made island home to a long list of luxury hotels.

The Kempinski hotel the likes of US and Chelsea star Christian Pulisic will call home for the World Cup has a number of high-end restaurants, including Spanish eatery El Faro, Toro Toro, and a sports bar.

Wales – Delta Hotels City Center Doha

The Dragons will be staying at one of the new hotels in Doha that is due to open this month.

Located in the heart of West Bay, close to the cruise ships where many supporters will be staying, the 32-storey hotel is likely to be a popular venue for fans with a number of food and beverage outlets.


Argentina – Qatar University Hostel 1

One of the tournament favorites, Argentina, will be staying in more modest surroundings when compared to their tournament rivals.

The Qatar University campus in Education City may not offer all the tourist trappings of West Bay and The Pearl, but a quieter base could be just the preparation Lionel Messi and co may need to secure their third FIFA World Cup.

Poland – Ezdan Palace Hotel

Robert Lewandowski and his teammates will be staying at this Andalusian-themed luxury hotel in Al Duhail South.

A huge leisure pool or hotel spa will be the perfect spot to unwind and prepare for games as the Poles aim to qualify from the group stage for the first time since 1982.

Saudi Arabia – Sealine Beach, a Murwab Resort

Another team looking for quieter surroundings is Qatar’s neighbor Saudi Arabia.

Staying 45 minutes outside of Doha at the Murwab Resort, players will enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the 58 private villas within the hotel grounds.

Mexico – Simaisma, a Murwab Resort

The tournament’s second ‘El Tri’, Mexico has also chosen a Murwab Resort as a World Cup base camp.

Slightly closer to Doha at around 25 minutes, the Mexican players will also enjoy the luxury solace of the resort’s 52 villas, complete with a private terrace and pool.


France – Al Messila, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa

The holders may be beset with their traditional struggles of controversy and discontent in the build-up to the tournament, but France can put all that aside once settled into an oasis of calm at Al Messila by Marriott Bonvoy.

A huge spa across 14,000 square meters will be the perfect spot to rejuvenate, while a walk through the hotel’s indigenous-scented gardens could provide the perfect recovery tonic between games.

Tunisia – Wyndham Grand Doha West Bay Beach

Close to Doha Mall and the DECC metro station, this 278-room hotel will be home to the Tunisian national side during the tournament.

The hotel has a big gym, and spa with a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and outdoor pool.

Australia – New Aspire Academy Athlete Accommodation

Like Argentina and Senegal, Australia has decided to stay in purpose-built accommodations for athletes rather than the glitzy hotels of central Doha.

The more modest surrounding of the Aspire Zone will be the base for Australia for the tournament, but it could be a brief stay as the Socceroos have been drawn into one of the more difficult groups.

Denmark – Retaj Salwa Resort & Spa

The Retaj Salwa Resort lies on the gateway to Qatar on the Salwa Road and is a 30-minute drive into central Doha.

The hotel has 168 rooms and villas, as well as a choice of four restaurants for guests, including the seafood eatery Fishkoza.


Spain – Qatar University Hostel 2

Like Argentina, the Spain football team will be staying at Qatar University in Education City.

Japan – Radisson Blu Hotel Doha

The Japan team will be staying at one of Doha’s oldest and most well-established hotels.

It offers plenty of places to recharge and unwind with more than 20 restaurants and bars making it a likely hotspot for fans.

Costa Rica – dusitD2 Salwa Doha

Just 20 minutes from Doha city center, the five-start D2 Salwa will be home to Costa Rica during the World Cup.

The hotel has plenty of eateries, including the popular Lemon Garden.

Germany – Zulal Wellness Resort

Like England, Germany has preferred to stay out of town away from the madding crowds.

Zulal opened in November 2021 and is Qatar’s largest wellness resort.


Belgium – Hilton Salwa Beach Resort

Belgium will be hoping to emerge from another difficult group and make one of the stronger European challenges for the trophy.

A 3.5km private beach at the Hilton Salwa will offer the perfect spot for downtime for players between matches.

Canada – Century Marina Hotel Lusail

Canada could prove to be another surprise hit during the World Cup after an impressive qualifying campaign and will be staying in Qatar’s newest city - Lusail.

The Century Marina is in the heart of the city, a short walk from the National Museum.

Morocco – Wyndham Doha West Bay

With four swimming pools and a location close to central Doha, the second Wyndham hotel in the city will host Morocco.

The hotel has easy access to The Gate Mall and is a little further away from the beach than the city’s other Wyndham hotel.

Croatia – Hilton Doha

Croatia is one of 24 teams staying within close proximity of each other in West Bay.

As the runners-up in Russia 2018, this could be the last hurrah for some of Croatia’s vaunted stars such as Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic.

The hotel is also home to a Trader Vic’s and Shots sports bar so sure to be popular with World Cup fans.


Brazil – The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa

The boys from Brazil are hot favorites to win the 2022 World Cup and for good reason.

The Westin Doha will be their home, probably until the tournament’s latter stages and well into December.

Players can relax and unwind at the hotels stunning outdoor pool or Heavenly Spa.

Cameroon – Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Mushaireb

Team staff and hotel guests who choose to eat at the Thai restaurant Saffron will be treated to spectacular views.

Players can also unwind at the hotel’s Banyan Tree Spa, catch a film at the nearby Vox cinema, or visit the Quest indoor theme park.

Serbia – Rixos Gulf Hotel Doha

This is another new hotel built just in time for the start of the World Cup and the imminent arrival of Serbia.

The Rixos sits on the site of Doha’s first five-star hotel and is an all-inclusive destination for guests.

Switzerland – Le Royal Méridien Doha

This hotel is in Lusail and recently opened its doors in June and is connected to another new venue, the glittering Place Vendome mall which opened in April.

The 377-room hotel is the first from the European-born brand in Qatar and is inspired by the 1960s glamour of the French Riviera.

The hotel is inspired by the country’s pearl diving history, with chandeliers representing mother-of-pearl shells, and coral reef art on the walls of the lobby.


Portugal – Al Samriya Autograph Collection Hotel

The Qatar World Cup is likely to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last chance for glory, and he is surrounded by stars in the national team who will be staying at the Al Samriya Autograph Collection Hotel.

This is another new hotel due to open this month with 60 rooms, and 27 villas, and is close to the FBQ Museum.

South Korea – Le Méridien City Centre, Doha

Home to the South Korea Football team the Le Méridien City Center is close to the Delta Hotel where the Welsh will be staying.

Once open, the hotel will have 353 rooms, and six restaurants and bars, including the Mediterranean restaurant KAZA.

Ghana – DoubleTree by Hilton Doha, Al Sadd

The African stars will be staying close to the home of Qatar’s best football team - Al Sadd.

Players staying there can visit the Nashville-inspired bar Broadway Brasserie, the pan-Asian spot Indo-Chin, and the casual bar StrEAT Culture.

Uruguay – Pullman Doha West Bay

The Pullman Doha is yet another new hotel built especially for the World Cup.

It will be home to the Uruguay national team, a side that traditionally punches well above its weight at World Cups.

Also located in West Bay, the 47-storey hotel has 375 hotel rooms, 93 apartments, and a 24-hour gym and a spa.

(Source: The National)