The Sunday Times says

A tournament to celebrate

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The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday, showcasing the talents of some of the most gifted footballers from across the world over a month of competition, culminating in the final on Dec 18. It will be the 22nd edition of the competition, and the first to be played in the Arab world. Thirty-two teams will compete, watched by 1.5 million fans expected to visit Qatar during the tournament and by millions more glued to television sets, computers, phone and mega screens worldwide. Matches will be held in eight stadiums, seven of which were built specifically for the event. These statistics attest to the giant logistical and physical scope of the event.

It is also a cultural and social festival. What makes the World Cup special is the enduring legacy and lure of the game – which is the most popular sport on the planet, with an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide. The considerable attention that this year’s tournament will undoubtedly bring is also an opportunity for a breather – a distraction, some would argue – from the trying times many nations face with volatile markets, inflation, the war in Ukraine and trade disruptions.

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