Soccer Football – 2022 FIFA World Cup – CONCACAF Qualifiers – Canada v Jamaica – BMO Field, Toronto, Canada – March 27, 2022 Canada’s Junior Hoilett celebrates scoring their third goal with teammates © REUTERS/Carlos Osorio
By Allie Murray
As players prepare to hit the pitch in Qatar, fans are gathering worldwide to watch one of the most historic World Cups in history.
With Qatar as the host nation for the 2022 event, it will be the first time the World Cup has been hosted in an Arab nation, and only the second time in an Asian country, the first of which being dual hosts Japan and South Korea in 2002. As well, due to Qatar’s intense heat, the event was postponed to begin in November, making it the first time the event hasn’t been hosted in May, June, or July.
The international tournament has seen teams making history, including Canada’s national team, who qualified for the tournament for the first time in 36 years. Canada has only played in the tournament once before, in 1986.
Wales has also qualified for the tournament for the second time—their first appearance being in 1958.
To celebrate the appearance, a group of Wales superfans have recorded a charity anthem aimed to cheer the team on and raise money for underprivileged children. The funds will be donated to Gôl Cymru, a charity run by Wales supporters that follow the team through their appearances and donates to youth in communities where the team plays. The initiative is completely fan-run.
Activism on an international stage
Teams and outside organizations are coming together to use the World Cup stage as a way to spread awareness for human rights.
Denmark’s national team has six initiatives that are rolling out while playing in the tournament, one of which is displaying messages in support of human rights on their training shirts.
Young soccer teams from around the world are also getting the chance to join the tournament with the help of Street Child World Cup. The youth tournament is kicking off its fourth tournament in partnership with Qatar Foundation. The tournament allows unhoused youth with a passion for sport to represent their country and make a difference.
“The UN estimates there to be over 100 million children living on the streets worldwide,” Street Child United co-founder and CEO John Wroe said. “By having the world’s attention on Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we can demonstrate the power of football for social good; helping to educate and raise awareness of these children’s circumstances. Together, we can create necessary change so that no child, anywhere, is living or sleeping on the streets.”
Striving to make a difference himself, Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davies pledged to donate his World Cup earnings to charity, noting that Canada provided him and his family with a better life when they came to Canada as refugees.
As the World Cup excitement builds for this year’s tournament, local fans are also looking towards 2026—when the tournament hits North American soil. The 2026 tournament will be hosted in Canada, the United States, and Mexico—becoming the first World Cup to be hosted in three countries.