After years of waiting, the most anticipated event in Qatar finally happened – the FIFA World Cup! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to witness the largest sporting event in the world! Growing up, I watched the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2019 World Cup in Russia on television. It has always been my dream to experience the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ first-hand.
My personal highlight was the decorations and art work that was all over the city. Almost every corner of Doha was in full festive mode! A lot of streets were decorated with flags and adorned with colorful lights. Fans crowded popular streets like Lusail Boulevard to cheer for their favorite teams. One could really feel the energetic atmosphere ignited by football.
When the games began on November 20th, Qatar became more vibrant than ever! The first match I attended was Portugal vs. Ghana in Stadium 974. This is a unique stadium made of 974 recycled and colorful shipping containers. The stadium is going to be disassembled and donated to countries around the world.
My most memorable match was Portugal vs. Switzerland (my fourth match). This game was played at the Lusail Stadium and I sat close to the field of Portuguese fans. It was the ultimate FIFA Fever. We cheered, yelled, and sang so much, my voice was gone by the end of the match. Every time I anticipated a goal, I stood up and when a goal was made, I shouted and waved my flag! I also performed the Viking clap – an important tradition in European Football along with the rest of the crowd.
What I appreciated about the games in Doha was the sense of comradery. Even when the teams faced defeat, there was no dull moment. I experienced this in the Senegal versus England match, from start to finish the Senegalese fans would not stop dancing! Even though England won the game, when I went outside the stadium, all I could see were Senegalese fans smiling. True sportsmanship!
The FIFA Fan Festivals were my go-to place after attending a match. These festivals really put me in the mood to dance and celebrate the victories of my favorite team. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone would be singing and dancing. We all “felt the magic in the air.” If you did not notice yet, those were lines from the song Magic in the Air, my favorite fan zone song during this World Cup. I also got to see GIMS, a Congolese French rapper, performing the 2022 World Cup theme song Arhbo, live. How cool is that!
The Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup marked a new history in football for bringing people together following a very challenging pandemic. For Qatar, the World Cup represented a brighter horizon and it defied the odds. But for me, this World Cup was a dream come true.