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FIFA World Cup 2022 mascot: What La’eeb means, inspiration behind it

FIFA World Cup 2022 mascot: What La’eeb means, inspiration behind it

Qatar is the first Arab nation to host the FIFA World Cup . As the football’s premier tournament continues, the host country is showcasing its culture and tradition to the world and the mega event’s official mascot is also inspired by Arab values.

It was in April this year that Qatar and FIFA unveiled La’eeb as the official mascot for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Also read: FIFA World Cup 2022: All you need to know about the tournament in Qatar

La’eeb is an Arabic word meaning “super-skilled player”. La’eeb resembles Casper, the friendly ghost.

According to FIFA, “He belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable – everyone is invited to interpret what it looks like. La’eeb encourages everyone to believe in themselves as ‘Now is All’. He will bring the joy of football to everyone.”

Also read: Live telecast, streaming of FIFA World Cup in India with channel numbers

La’eeb resembles ghutrah or keffiyeh or kufiya, the Arab headdress. In Arabic, ghutrah means “to cover”. With La’eeb’s design, Qatar is showing the Arab culture and tradition to the world.

According to the book, Hats and Headwear around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia, “The ghutrah is an ancient styled square head scarf made of wool, silk, or a cotton blend, used most commonly by men in desert or arid regions of the Middle East and North Africa.”

Also read: FIFA World Cup 2022: Schedule, groups, match times in IST, venues, live TV, streaming, and more

“The average size worn by adult males is approximately four feet by four feet wide. Folded into a triangle, with the crease placed across the forehead, the furthest two points may be pulled under the chin, then around the sides of the neck to the nape where they are tied in the back.

“This method results in a secure fabric shield to help protect the face and neck from blowing desert sand and intense sunlight. While variations abound, one particularly common type of ghutrah favored by Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinians is the keffiyeh, made of red-and-white or black-and-white checkered heavy cotton fabric with tassels,” the book adds.

Also read: Why more stoppage time is added at FIFA World Cup 2022

Khalid Ali Al Mawlawi, Deputy Director General, Marketing, Communications and Tournament Experience, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said, “He (La’eeb) comes from the mascot-verse – a place that is indescribable. We encourage everyone to imagine what it looks like.”

“We are sure fans everywhere will love this fun and playful character. La’eeb will play a vital role as we engage fans young and old in Qatar’s FIFA World Cup experience,” added Al Mawlawi.

FIFA said, “The courageous and uplifting La’eeb has attended every previous FIFA World Cup tournament and has contributed to some of the most famous moments in football history, including a number of iconic goals.

La’eeb will be known for his youthful spirit; spreading joy and confidence everywhere he goes. La’eeb comes from a parallel world where tournament mascots live. It is a world where ideas and creativity form the basis of characters that live in the minds of everyone.”

As per the organisers, La’eeb will be everywhere – welcoming the world, inspiring young fans and cheering the action during the tournament.

The official mascot for a FIFA World Cup was launched in England in 1966 and La’eeb is the 15th such mascot for the tournament.

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At Qatar’s World Cup, Where Politics and Pleasure Collide

By Sam Knight

Saudi Arabia's “Green Falcons” fans in the tribune during the 2022 World Cup game between Argentina and Saudi Arabia in...

A smiling ghost came up through the floor. La’eeb, the mascot of this year’s World Cup, in Qatar, is a bodiless figure in a thobe, the white gown favored by the men of the Arabian Peninsula. He materialized during the tournament’s opening ceremony, sometime after Morgan Freeman asked Ghanim al-Muftah, a Qatari YouTuber, who was born without legs, whether he was welcome in the country—he was—and before Jung Kook, of the Korean boy band BTS, sent the mostly Qatari crowd into a conservative mode of ecstasy. La’eeb wafted across a spotlighted plain populated by previous mascots, going all the way back to World Cup Willie, a Teddy-bear lion used by England fourteen tournaments ago. For soccer fans, each iteration of the World Cup, which was first staged in Uruguay, in 1930, carries immediate associations: Pavarotti singing “Nessun Dorma” in Italy, in 1990; the vuvuzelas of South Africa, in 2010. The Qatari edition was born in corruption, paid for with hydrocarbons, and built on the labor of hundreds of thousands of workers, imported from the Global South and frequently abused in one of the smallest and richest countries on earth. According to FIFA , which owns the World Cup, La’eeb was from “a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable.” Everyone was encouraged to find his or her own meaning, even if that meaning was death.

The first ten days of the World Cup in Qatar were soccer as it is, rather than as you want it to be. It was venal, closed, and transactional. I saw some terrific goals. I drank Coke and paid with my Visa card. I lined up for the Adidas store. Everything was brand new, air-conditioned, and covered in an almost invisible layer of pale desert dust. I was safe and occasionally delighted, most often by the people I met. It was a case of situational ethics, in which the spontaneity and the fellow-feeling of the world’s most popular sport were disrupted and modified by the circumstances in which it was played.

When I arrived for the opening match, at Al Bayt Stadium—which stands alone in the desert, a soaring industrial confection of a Bedouin tent—I knelt down to pick a sprig of the perfect grass, just to check if it was real. It smelled of nothing at all. (The turf at the World Cup is a trademarked seashore paspalum imported from the United States; each field is irrigated with ten thousand litres of desalinated water a day.) There was camel shit, and that was real, too. At night, in the capital, Doha, you were never more than ten yards from a crowd marshal, waving a green or a red light stick, showing you where to go. The scores of ongoing games were projected onto the flanks of skyscrapers, which winked across the city. It was like being inside a QR code.

Qatar is smaller than Connecticut. All but three teams were based in Doha, and, unlike at any previous World Cup, it was possible to attend more than one match in a day. The entire world was there, in generally small proportions. I met a Mexican couple on the sparkling new metro, grousing about the lack of beer. “The beer is the atmosphere,” one of them said. Canadian fans discussed the rumored electronic surveillance. (The German authorities advised visitors to wipe their phones after using Qatar’s Hayya app, which functioned as both a visa and a pass for the tournament.) Welsh supporters were ordered to remove their rainbow-colored bucket hats.

A monument of the Qatar World Cup mascot named “Laeeb” the Arabic word for “superskilled player” at Al Dafna Park in...

Doha is a city of six-lane highways and unwalked sidewalks. There are compounds in every shade of beige. Away from the stadiums and the malls, there was never anybody around, which gave rise to an occasional feeling of going to the World Cup alone. One morning, I tried to find the Dutch team, which was training at a facility on the Qatar University campus. The campus, a vast maze of roads and checkpoints, was closed. (Qatar’s school and university semesters ended early, to make way for the tournament.) No one knew where the team was. Instead, I stopped by Caravan City, a trailer park for fans, where a windswept gravel plain was decorated here and there with simple stone mosaics of flowers. I bumped into Jaime Higuera, from New Jersey, who was staying in a trailer with his brother. The trailer was sweet enough, decorated with paintings of stags. Outside, there was not a soul to be seen. “I’m, like, ‘Are there other people staying here?’ ” Higuera said. “I don’t know.”

FIFA awarded Qatar the rights to host the World Cup on December 2, 2010. On the same day, the organization’s executive committee voted to give Russia the 2018 edition. Of the twenty-two men who voted, fifteen were later indicted by American or Swiss prosecutors, banned from soccer, charged by FIFA ’s ethics committee, or expelled from the International Olympic Committee. External advisers pointed out that Qatar did not have a single suitable stadium, that it was a potential security risk, and that temperatures in the summer reach a hundred and ten degrees. (The tournament was originally scheduled for June and July.) In the following twelve years, the World Cup catalyzed a breathtaking construction boom in Qatar, which relied overwhelmingly on migrant workers from South Asia. Human-rights organizations reported deaths, poor workplace safety, and misery among unpaid workers, who were trapped in Qatar’s unequal immigration system. Gay and trans people expressed shock that the World Cup would be held in a country where homosexual activity and all forms of extramarital sex are punishable by up to seven years’ imprisonment. “It’s not just sad, it’s sick,” Thomas Hitzlsperger, a gay former member of the German national team, told the Guardian .

On November 8th, twelve days before the tournament began, Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA , admitted that Qatar had been “a bad choice.” His successor, Gianni Infantino, said that it would be the best World Cup ever. He wrote to the thirty-two teams taking part and asked them to focus on soccer, “without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world.”

The day before the opening, Infantino addressed some four hundred reporters in an auditorium in Doha. “Today, I have very strong feelings,” he began. “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker.” Infantino recalled his own struggles, as the child of Italian migrants in Switzerland. He was bullied because of something red on his hands. He asked his director of communications what these were called. “ Freckles ,” Infantino said. He berated the reporters for not writing more about disabled people. “Nobody cares,” he said. He mourned the deaths of African migrants at sea in the Mediterranean, attempting to reach a better life: “Where are we going? Where are we going with our way of working, guys?”

Whatever Infantino was trying to say, it didn’t make much more sense than the words of “Tukoh Taka,” the insanely catchy anthem of the tournament’s Fan Festival, which took place on a shadeless, concrete expanse, not far from Doha’s waterfront: “Some say ‘football,’ some say ‘soccer’ / Likkle shot go block-a (block-a).” Thank you, Nicki Minaj. Or a TikTok video that circulated showing some England fans, apparently from Liverpool, who were having a good time in Doha—just having a moosh, in their words—on the lookout for some beer, ending up in a rich Qatari’s house and playing with his pet lion.

Abandoned by politicians, who don’t like to offend Qatar, which is the world’s largest exporter of liquid natural gas, players and coaches had to juggle an impossible multiplex of sports, human rights, and authoritarian capitalism. Gregg Berhalter, the head coach of the United States team, addressed a press conference before the team’s first game, against Wales, like a marine colonel trying to explain an air strike on civilians. “We don’t necessarily reflect the view of Infantino,” he said. A group of European team captains, including England’s Harry Kane, who had planned to wear rainbow-colored “One Love” armbands, to show their support for L.G.B.T.Q. rights, changed their minds when they were threatened with yellow cards by FIFA . The Iranian players showed their Western counterparts what actual courage looked like, by refusing to sing their national anthem, in solidarity with recent protests against the clerical regime.

The Qataris, to varying degrees, were terrified of the influx. Families installed security cameras and checked their window locks. In the days before the World Cup, social media filled with prayers and stoic messages for the test ahead. “I was, like, ‘This is very strange,’ because it’s the type of stuff you would say or tweet, like, literally, when you’re going to war,” a young Qatari, whom I will call Ali, told me. (Qatar ranks a hundred and nineteenth out of a hundred and eighty on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index, below Ethiopia. In this article, single names are pseudonyms.) Two days before the opening ceremony and the first match, between Qatar and Ecuador, the authorities reneged on an agreement to allow beer to be served at the stadiums. On the day of the game, which Ali was preparing to attend with his siblings, his father announced that his youngest sister wasn’t going. “There’s this huge fear,” Ali said. “My parents always talked about: What if people don’t leave—they come here for the World Cup and just, like, start selling drugs or doing whatever?”

After the opening ceremony, I talked with a group of young Qatari men who were hanging out in the stadium concourse. Qatari society is considered the most conservative of the six nations of the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar’s great rival, the United Arab Emirates. The men almost always wear national dress: an ironed white thobe and a white headdress kept in place by a black cord called an agal. Women cover their heads and wear the abaya, a long black gown. At a 2019 soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Saudis teased the Qataris for coming as if dressed for a wedding. Mohammed Hussein, who was twenty-five, seemed preternaturally calm. “This is our culture,” he said. “This is us.” He had never been to a soccer match before.

A banner at a construction site opposite Place Vendôme mall showing the development of a new luxury neighborhood in...

The teams took to the pitch. “Al Bayt Stadium, the wait is over!” the announcer yelled. Qatar, whose team plays in deep red and is nicknamed the Maroon, has never qualified for a World Cup on merit. (The host country always plays.) The team wasn’t terrible. In 2019, Qatar won the Asian Cup and was ranked fiftieth in the world, only six places below Ecuador. But the Qatari players were nervous. Their passing was scrappy. The ball wouldn’t stick. In the stands, Qatari fans chatted with one another, including with people they didn’t already know—something that rarely happens in public places. “All those rules just kind of disappeared in the stadium,” Ali said.

Ecuador scored two goals in the first thirty-one minutes. The team’s supporters chanted, “ Queremos cerveza!  ” We want beer. Behind the Qatar goal, a bloc of hard-core fans, dressed in maroon T-shirts, kept up an impressive performance of drumming and chanting for the home team. But they weren’t wearing thobes and seemed to have a lot of tattoos. It turned out that they were Lebanese.

At halftime, the Budweiser fridges stood empty and unlabelled. Fans prayed near a Visa-gift-card stand. I came across Garga Umaru, a broad man dressed in a tall straw hat and a long gown in the colors of Cameroon. He was offering to pose for photos with Qatari children. “Cameroon, no problem!” he called out. Speaking quietly, Umaru was skeptical of the host country’s chances. “Qatar is not at the level of the World Cup,” he said. “Football is in the feet.” Umaru said that he was one of about two hundred fans who had been flown in from Cameroon. He wasn’t sure which soccer federation had paid for the trip. Ahmed, a Syrian Palestinian in his twenties, who had grown up in Qatar, was worried about how the team was playing. “The pass accuracy is just horrible,” he said. No host country had ever lost the opening match of a World Cup; Ahmed feared that Qatar might not score a single goal in the tournament. “All the pressure is getting to them,” he said.

Ecuador remained in complete control in the second half. Seats began to empty. Qatari families, who had clapped politely during the first half, made for their Land Cruisers. “In the West, the idea is to say, ‘I’m here for you till the end. And I cheer for you,’ ” a Qatari who left at halftime told me later. “Here, though, the approach, it’s more ‘Hey! I came all the way here to see you. . . . You should have been playing better than that.’ ” Ali and his siblings stuck it out until the eighty-second minute. Then they left to beat the traffic.

Nobody knows how many people died building the World Cup. Last year, the Guardian reported that sixty-seven hundred and fifty South Asian migrants had died in Qatar since the hosting rights were awarded—a total derived from figures collected by foreign embassies. In response, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the state body in charge of preparing the tournament, said that the true number was thirty-seven, of whom only three had died in workplace accidents. (During the tournament, the Supreme Committee revised the estimate of the dead to about five hundred.)

Trying to disentangle World Cup-related deaths and hardship from Qatar’s over-all economic structure is a mostly hopeless task. Doha’s infrastructure projects involve a mille-feuille of international contractors and subcontractors—an ecosystem of plausible deniability. Causes of death are haphazardly reported, and the default categories (“natural causes,” “cardiac arrest”) change from year to year. Autopsies, particularly of poorer migrants, are rarely performed. Barrak Alahmad, a Kuwaiti public-health researcher at Harvard, told me that heat exposure, for example, almost never turns up in official statistics. “Good luck finding people dying from heat, because you’re not going to find a problem,” he said. “No data, no problem. That’s it.”

It’s probably a mistake, in fact, to try to disentangle the World Cup from anything that has happened in Qatar. The Qatari Investment Authority, which manages an estimated four hundred and fifty billion dollars, didn’t build a stage for a soccer tournament; it built a city to encompass the stage. The World Cup cost more than two hundred billion dollars (that’s around sixty times the expense of the 2010 tournament, in South Africa), but the price tag included the metro system, an airport extension, bridges, man-made islands, fighter jets, a collapsible stadium, and a bulk order of five-star hotels. Doha tripled in size during the twenty-tens. The population of Qatar increased by a million people, or sixty per cent. A lot of that growth probably would have happened without the World Cup. “Doha has been ‘under construction’ since I was born,” Ali said. “Road closures or towers or new cities or whatever aren’t really a new sight.” The World Cup, as much as anything, was a deadline.

The work was done by migrants. Qataris make up about twelve per cent of the country’s population—a ruling class of around three hundred thousand people. Of the 805,810 workers in the construction sector in 2017, 0.0016 per cent were Qatari nationals. “You’re going to see two different populations living in the same country,” Alahmad told me, before I travelled to Doha. “And the migrant population is just invisible to public policy.” Throughout the Gulf, health inequality between full citizens and the thirty million migrant workers is structural and endemic. It takes in everything from housing to diet, workplace safety, and mental health. According to the Vital Signs Partnership, a coalition of migrant-advocacy groups, more than half of the estimated ten thousand annual deaths of South Asian workers in the region are “effectively unexplained.” In 2019, researchers concluded that around a third of almost six hundred deaths among young, otherwise healthy Nepali migrants in Qatar could have been prevented. Other studies have reported that CKDnt, a chronic kidney condition linked to dehydration, is disproportionately common among laborers in the region. In 2018, a survey of Nepali workers who had spent more than six months in either the Gulf or Malaysia found that a quarter suffered from mental-health problems. Alahmad explained that, in public health, you expect a society’s working population—younger, fitter, with fewer disabilities—to be in better shape than the rest. But, in the Gulf, the opposite is true. “I look at this, I’m astonished,” he said. “But then you look at all the list of things that can explain this, and it’s kind of clear.”

Qatar was like this before it was Qatar. (The country gained independence in 1971.) Before gas, there were pearls. “We are all, from the highest to the lowest, slaves of one master, the pearl,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Thani, the first emir, said, in 1863. Many of the divers who swam down to the pearl beds off the coast of Doha were African slaves. In 1916, Qatar became a British protectorate. But slavery was abolished only in 1952, when six hundred and sixty slaves were freed, with compensation of fifteen hundred rupees (three hundred and fifteen dollars) per person, paid to their owners.

A camera operator by the pitch during the 2022 World Cup match between Uruguay and South Korea at Education City Stadium...

The modern labor system is largely a product of Arab nationalism and civil unrest, which began in the fifties, when Qatar’s resident population objected to being displaced from jobs on the new, British-administered oil fields by better-paid Indian and Pakistani workers. In 1961, everyone who could prove residence in Qatar before 1930 was offered citizenship. Everybody else needed to have a kafeel , or sponsor, to be able to work in the country. The kafeel could exert onerous control over a worker’s life and movements. “This is a labor system based on temporary labor,” Natasha Iskander, a migration scholar at New York University, told me. She did field work for three years among migrants in Doha’s construction sector, before her research was shut down, in 2014. “Every single aspect of their rights and protections are tied to their economic function,” she said. In 2020, following negative publicity surrounding the building of the World Cup, Qatar abolished its kafala system (the system is still in place elsewhere in the Gulf), but many of its principles remain intact. “The kafala system, under its current reform, is more protective than temporary-guest-worker legislation in the U.S.,” Iskander said. “But it’s not the law that determines conditions at work—it’s the power dynamics.”

Qataris often emphasize the diversity of the national population; the second emir referred to Qatar as the “Kaaba of the dispossessed,” a refuge for exiles and traders across the Middle East. At the same time, the separation of the Qatari people from the foreign migrants who work for them is woven into the fabric of the country. Doha’s zoning laws designate separate neighborhoods for Qatari families and for “bachelors,” as the migrant laborers are known.

“There’s not a single South Asian who comes to Qatar that thinks he’s going to come and spend the rest of his life here,” a prominent Qatari businessman, Khalid, told me. When I asked Khalid about the country’s recent census, he described it as fake—meaning that it didn’t refer to real Qataris. “The population of Qatar is built around how many people are needed to work in the country,” he said. “The day you don’t have these construction projects, most of these people are just going to eventually be served their end of service. ‘Thank you very much. And now it’s time for you to go back home.’ ”

In 2020, E. Tendayi Achiume, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, described Qatar as a “de facto caste system based on national origin,” in which domestic workers were denied food, and women from sub-Saharan Africa were subjected to sexual abuse. Last year, Qatar introduced a minimum wage—two hundred and seventy-five dollars a month. The starting salary for a Qatari college graduate is around ten thousand dollars a month. “You do have the dichotomy in the approach between your own people, if you will, and the others,” Khalid said. “Those other guys, we don’t know them. We don’t trust them. We’re scared of them.”

Since 2006, a new city has been under construction to the north of Doha. Lusail, which will cost forty-five billion dollars to build, is one of the largest developments in the Middle East. According to its marketing spiel, Lusail will be “a beacon of smart living,” a pleasure dome of international hotels and underground parking. Qatar’s wealth and its quiescent civil society—political parties are banned; there are no independent media—make it a testing ground for extreme urban planning. Iskander described Lusail as a modernist imaginary. “The city is for the élite,” she said. “And it’s not just for the élite—it makes the élites. It creates an élite kind of life style, where, you know, everything is climate-controlled, everything is perfect. You’re highly surveilled. But everything is seamless.”

The World Cup final will take place at Lusail Stadium, an eighty-thousand-seat arena meant to evoke a handcrafted golden bowl. On the third day of the tournament, I visited the Place Vendôme, a fancy mall in downtown Lusail. A mobility scooter modelled on a stretch limousine waited outside a storefront bursting with luxuriant flowers. The brands—Cole Haan, Birkenstock, Nespresso, Skechers—were soothing and familiar. Outside, a sun-bleached futurama showed the rest of the unbuilt Vendôme neighborhood, complete with canals and two women in abayas, emerging from a black Rolls-Royce. Workers in blue overalls and high-visibility vests rested in the shade of an overpass. I stopped by one of the finished apartment blocks, where the rents are about four thousand dollars a month. “I would say it is the next big thing,” the building manager said. “It is a luxury city.” He was Lebanese and had been in Doha for three years. I asked him what he had learned there. He thought for a moment. “It’s a country for work, actually,” he said. “You don’t have to care about basic things.”

It is unclear who will live in Lusail. The city is projected to have around two hundred thousand permanent residents, which is two-thirds of the native Qatari population. But Qataris don’t tend to live in apartments—at least not when they’re in Qatar. “We’re closer to an L.A. standard of living than a New York or a London or a Paris,” Khalid explained. “Most Qataris live in big houses. They have aides at home. They go to these towers and it’s all two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom apartments. As Qataris, what are we going to do with that?” There are perhaps two hundred thousand white-collar migrants in the country. But, with rare exceptions, it is impossible for foreigners to own property in Doha. The logical way to populate Lusail would be to relax the country’s migration laws and some of its social strictures—to create another Dubai—but that won’t happen anytime soon. Hosting the World Cup has emphasized the contradiction between Qatar’s international posturing and its cultural conservativism, which many Qataris regard as a deeply precious thing, along with their free electricity, free health care, free education, free land, eternal job security, and interest-free loans. “You see a duality—a struggle between wanting to be international and wanting to be left alone. The duality between playing global but staying local,” Khalid told me. “I don’t want to turn into an HSBC ad, but that is the reality.”

The first game at Lusail Stadium was Argentina against Saudi Arabia, or Lionel Messi versus someone or other. Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986, but since then it has often been the nearly team, full of wonderful players who can’t quite get it together. Nobody is more wonderful than Messi, who played and lost in Argentina’s last World Cup final, in 2014. He is thirty-five now. In the course of five tournaments, he has morphed from an elfin presence with shoulder-length hair, who floated across the turf, to an underslept dad, stepping out to buy some milk. During the warmup against Saudi Arabia, there must have been forty players on the field, going through drills, but the crowd watched only him. Messi stood outside the penalty area, taking casual potshots at the goal. Thousands oohed and gasped each time. When a shot hit the crossbar, he ambled away, apparently satisfied.

Messi walks a disconcerting amount during a match. Other soccer players, when they are not involved in the action, often jog to stay in position. Messi pads about. He has a low-slung dancer’s waddle. The game is elsewhere. Then, by magnetism, or spatial genius, or because it’s a good idea to pass to Lionel Messi, he has the ball, and eighty thousand people shift in their seats. Against Saudi Arabia, which had won one match at the World Cup in twenty-eight years, Messi nearly scored with his first or second touch of the ball, after a minute and forty seconds. Eight minutes later, he scored a penalty, rolling the ball to the right of Mohammed al-Owais, the Saudi goalkeeper. Everyone was pretty happy about it, even the Saudi fans. For the rest of the half, the Argentinean players kept trying to spring open the Saudi offside trap. Lautaro Martinez, a striker for Inter Milan, dinked the ball into the net, but the goal was disallowed by FIFA ’s new semiautomated Video Assistant Referee. After years of rejecting technological assistance, to preserve the human fallibility of the game, FIFA was tracking players across twenty-nine body parts, fifty times per second, at the World Cup. The official match ball carried an inertial measurement unit. Offside decisions came down to the width of a nose hair.

Iranian defensive midfielder Rouzbeh Cheshmi at the center of a drill during a training session before their 2022 World...

At halftime, I met Ali al-Khaldi, a twenty-three-year-old ambulance dispatcher from Dhahran, an oil town on the coast of Saudi Arabia. Khaldi had worked the night shift before boarding a plane to Doha. He hadn’t slept since the previous day. “The offside trap is working perfectly,” he said. Argentina had not lost for thirty-six matches, a streak lasting more than three years. Khaldi said that he would be happy with a 3–0 defeat, as long as Messi scored a hat trick.

Three minutes into the second half, Saleh al-Shehri, a twenty-nine-year-old forward, playing in his first World Cup game, burst through the Argentinean defense and placed a shot past Emiliano Martinez, the startled goalkeeper. The screens in the stadium flashed green, showing the Saudi sword. Then the Green Falcons went ahead. The ball fell to Salem al-Dawsari, a veteran winger who once played a single game in the Spanish league. He pushed it out from under his feet and swiped a vicious rising shot past Martinez. Apparently, it was Dawsari’s signature move. The stadium went berserk. Dawsari performed a cartwheel and then a backflip. I looked at Khaldi, who put his hands over his face and then kissed his friend. He looked like he was having a panic attack.

The Saudis played like giants after that. Hassan al-Tambakti, a young defender from Riyadh, celebrated his tackles like goals. Mohammed Kanno, a tall, leggy midfielder, shadowed Messi everywhere he went. When the Argentinean fans, who came to Qatar in great numbers, tried to rouse their team, the Saudi fans waved their hands and whistled, to show that they were not scared. Messi picked the lock once or twice, squirting the ball to Argentina’s forwards, but the Saudis smothered them each time. Owais, the goalkeeper, came flying out and crashed into Yasser al-Shahrani, the team’s tigerish left back, fracturing his jaw. Celebrating in the din, Khaldi was hoarse: “The atmosphere is crazy. The result is stunning. The vibe is . . .” He could not describe the vibe. “I have the worst headache. It’s killing me.” Saudi fans streamed out in the golden light, into the modernist imaginary of Lusail, calling “olé”s and baiting the Argentinean fans. Three Saudis rolled out a Green Falcons prayer mat and turned in the direction of Mecca.

The Saudi victory kick-started the tournament. Spain defeated Costa Rica by seven goals to zero. Pablo Martín Páez Gavira, an eighteen-year-old midfielder known as Gavi, slanted in the fifth goal with the outside of his boot, becoming the World Cup’s youngest scorer since Pelé. A few hours earlier, Japan had defeated Germany, 2–1. The Germans are no longer the same team that won the World Cup eight years ago, in Brazil, but they cruised through the first seventy minutes, with a one-goal lead. The Blue Samurai equalized with a quarter of the game to go before Takuma Asano, a bleached-blond winger, squeezed the ball past Manuel Neuer, Germany’s imperious goalkeeper and captain, like a cat slipping through a closing door.

The Qataris cheered the underdogs. “Sometimes when I see people speaking about how there isn’t a football culture here, it really, really, really hurts me,” Asma, a twenty-four-year-old Qatari woman, told me the following day, on Zoom. Asma loves soccer in all forms. She plays midfield. Her younger sister is a mean goalkeeper. “Football is what we grew up playing,” she said. “We play football in the heat, barefoot, and we’re good.” Asma was having trouble leaving the house during the tournament because of all the games that she wanted to catch on TV. “I’m cheering for Japan against Germany by default yesterday,” she said. “Because of this sense of war against the Western countries that is going on.”

Neuer, like the other European captains, had wanted to wear a One Love armband. Before kicking off against Japan, the members of the German team protested their silencing by putting their hands over their mouths. Asma mocked them: “Going”—she covered her mouth—“and then losing it. You know, those things really help me sleep at night.” Like many Qataris, Asma closely followed Western reporting on preparations for the World Cup. She noted that criticism of her country, which once centered on its involvement in corruption at FIFA, had moved on to labor conditions and the treatment of L.G.B.T.Q. people. “It’s just, honestly, weird,” Asma said. “It gets to a point where it’s confusing.”

At first, Asma assumed that rival nations were trying to get the location of the tournament changed. But now it seemed as if Qatar couldn’t do anything right. “I don’t know if Westerners do have their own outcome or desired goal to reach,” Asma said. “If they do, and we fail to see it, then it’s all for nothing. They’re not really changing anything, even though they might believe they are.” The fact that Dubai, a popular destination for European soccer players and their clubs, didn’t seem to attract the same kind of ethical scrutiny drove her crazy. “They go to Dubai and love Dubai,” Asma said. “And they don’t care about migrant workers there. They love to take pictures of Burj Khalifa”—the world’s tallest building—“but they don’t care about the people who build Burj Khalifa. It just gets, like, very confusing from an Arab perspective. Very, very, very confusing.”

After the Germany match, Qatari Twitter was a loop of homophobic memes. La’eeb, the ineffable mascot, held a rainbow banner that was on fire. Skirts were Photoshopped onto the German team. The Japanese were a big hit in Qatar, on account of their extreme cleanliness. A picture of Japanese fans helping to tidy up Khalifa International Stadium, after the team’s victory, was modified to show them putting rainbow flags in the trash.

The political subtexts of the World Cup were many, and updated by the hour. The day before Iran’s second match, against Wales, Voria Ghafouri, a popular former national-team player and a critic of the regime, was detained after training with his team, Foolad Khuzestan—an apparent warning to the players in Qatar. Carlos Queiroz, the team’s Portuguese coach, begged to talk about something else. “Why don’t you ask the other coaches?” he told a reporter from the BBC. “Why don’t you ask Southgate, ‘What do you think about England and the United States that left Afghanistan and all the women alone?’ ”

Gareth Southgate, the English manager, is a centrist, down to his zip-neck polo shirts. He seemed flummoxed by the possibilities. “I think there’s a risk that everybody tries to escalate,” he said at a news conference. “Were we to try to produce a better video than Australia did? That would be impossible.” (The Socceroos made a black-and-white film calling for better treatment of workers and same-sex couples in Qatar.) Southgate asked, “Do we have to come up with a better gesture than Germany?” After the German interior minister was photographed wearing a One Love armband, Qatari fans sported one in support of Palestine. Pan-Arab feeling was strong in Doha. “I’m cheering for all the Arab teams,” Asma said. “I’m cheering for Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia.” After the victory over Argentina, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, wrapped himself in the Saudi flag.

In early June, 2017, Qatar’s immediate neighbors—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the U.A.E.—mounted an economic and diplomatic blockade. Air travel between the countries ceased, Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia was closed, and Qatari diplomats were expelled. (Egypt, Yemen, and the Maldives also joined the blockade.) The ostensible reasons were Qatar’s willingness to fund and shelter Islamist opposition groups (a long-standing issue—Osama bin Laden was a visitor to Doha in the late nineties) and the activities of Al Jazeera, Qatar’s pesky, state-funded news channel. Donald Trump, a recent visitor to the region, took credit on Twitter: “I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar—look!” He described the blockade as “hard but necessary.” At the time, Qatar imported ninety per cent of its food. There were rumors that Saudi troops were ready to invade.

The blockade, which lasted until January, 2021, had a galvanizing effect on Qatar. Eighteen thousand Holstein cows arrived from the European Union and the U.S. and were housed in the desert. (Qatar is now a dairy exporter.) The blockade was also a reminder of why the country wanted to host the World Cup. The fear of small, preposterously rich nations in the Gulf is what befell Kuwait in 1990, when Iraq invaded and the U.S. Congress had to think for a moment before doing anything about it. “Everything Qatar does arises from its security dilemma of being kind of wedged between these two regional major powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of which the Qataris don’t trust,” Andreas Krieg, a researcher at the School of Security Studies at King’s College London, told me. Krieg spent three years in Doha, in the twenty-tens, establishing a staff college for the Qatari military. “The worst thing that could happen to Qatar is being kind of rendered irrelevant,” he said.

Under the previous emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who deposed his father in a coup, in 1995, Qatar modernized aggressively. “We have simply got to reform ourselves,” Sheikh Hamad told The New Yorker , in 2000. “Change, more change, is coming.” Since 2003, Qatar has hosted more than ten thousand U.S. military personnel at Al Udeid Air Base, twenty miles southeast of Doha. “That was like buying a gold-plated insurance policy,” Steven Simon, who worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council during the Clinton and Obama Administrations, told me. In 2006, Qatar overtook Indonesia as the world’s largest exporter of natural gas. (Revenues were up fifty-eight per cent in 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the previous World Cup host.) The country’s sovereign wealth fund owns Harrods, many billions of dollars’ worth of New York real estate, and a ten-per-cent stake in Volkswagen. A former British diplomat, posted to Doha, told me that a Qatari official once asked him why he thought that the country had invested in a billion-dollar liquid-natural-gas terminal in South Wales. “To sell us gas?” the diplomat ventured. “No,” the official replied. “It is so, when we call, your Prime Minister picks up.”

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But gas pipelines and defense agreements and department stores guarantee only so much attention in the Gulf. “We’re not the only ones with a lot of money. We’re not the only ones who are doing these arms deals. . . . So what do you do?” Khalid, the businessman, said. “You buy influence by getting into sports, because that’s where people talk about you.”

People also talk about “sportswashing,” to describe the activities of sovereign wealth funds like Saudi Arabia’s, which recently acquired Newcastle United, an English Premier League soccer team, and plans to spend two billion dollars on LIV , a breakaway golf league. The term suggests using sports to launder a lousy reputation. But, in the case of Qatar, staging the World Cup was more about gaining a reputation at all. Even bad publicity—around labor practices and human rights—is publicity. “Criticism will only go so far,” Simon, the former N.S.C. member, said. “The subject is raised, and the Qataris respond politely and with assurances.”

In Doha, people didn’t want to take anything for granted. “I don’t know if Qatar has won or not,” Khalid said. But he had been watching a Netflix documentary about previous World Cups, and he didn’t think that Argentina’s military dictatorship had done too badly out of it, in 1978. Likewise, he recalled anxieties around Brazil’s favelas and the Zika virus in the run-up to the 2014 tournament. “That’s the point. These World Cups come and go,” he said. “But do people remember in the long run? Does this global conscience really exist, or is it a very short-term thing?”

Qatar’s second match was on a Friday, the country’s day of rest. In a restaurant in a busy part of Doha, I met Salim, a young clerical worker from Bangladesh. Salim came to Qatar six years ago, from Chittagong. He paid eighteen thousand Qatari rials (about five thousand dollars) to a middleman to get a job as a building inspector at one of the World Cup stadiums. It took Salim almost two years to earn the money back, and during that time he was terrified of falling foul of his employer, or of any Qatari he happened to meet. “First time when I see Qatari people, I feel afraid,” he said. “Because I thought if I do anything wrong with them . . . they will make any problem.” Salim said that he was encouraged to massage his inspection findings, to allow the project to meet its hasty schedule. “Everyone had a big pressure,” Salim said.

Like other migrant workers in Doha, Salim was caught up in the spectacle of the World Cup. He was also working as a FIFA volunteer. “This is very amazing,” he said. He took pride in what he had helped to build but also had a sense that he was disposable. “Me? This guy?” Salim gestured to a cousin he had brought to our meeting. “We are the same like animals. We are doing work. We are getting paid. After finish this project? ‘Yes, you can go. . . . You go to Hell. I don’t care.’ ” Salim helped to document poor labor practices in Qatar, on behalf of a human-rights organization. He had intervened in about twenty cases—ranging from inadequate food to nonpayment of workers—but he explained that it was risky to raise complaints. Trade unions do not exist in Qatar, and Salim’s visa did not cover his advocacy work. “This is not safe for me,” he said. He was nervous about a security camera in one corner of the restaurant.

Salim was considering his options. He missed his wife. They were planning to move to Europe. “I want to go there, and I want to stay there for a long time,” he said. “Until I die, that means.” Salim had found another middleman who might be able to help them get to Spain. The cost was around five thousand dollars.

Qatar is often most shocking in the ways that it resembles the most unequal corners of other societies, including our own. It is the frankness of the Qatari system, more than its iniquity, that is unusual. “This is a common and almost universal kind of setup,” Iskander, the migration scholar, said. “And this is one of the reasons that we are all implicated in the system. It is not, you know, the Qataris behaving badly. It is us, as a global community, really having to confront what it looks like when you rely utterly on a system that deprives people of rights beyond their economic function.”

During her research in Doha, Iskander noted that recruiters targeted communities in parts of South Asia and North Africa that were suffering the impacts of climate change. “Those are the best places to get large numbers of workers very quickly. It makes perfect business sense,” she said. Qatar’s wealth and hustle make it an innovator, rather than an outlier. “Whose bodies are we willing to sacrifice to preserve this system of production?” Iskander said. “I think Qatar is kind of a window onto some of these politics as they emerge.”

In the months leading up to the World Cup, bachelors were evicted from their lodgings in Doha, to make room for tourists and to comply with the city’s zoning laws. Many were moved to the Industrial Area, a district of some twelve square miles, with a population density similar to New Delhi’s. I had tea in the district with a group of laborers and mechanics from Peshawar, Pakistan. A crane operator in his twenties named Imran had been in Doha for a little less than a year. In Pakistan, Imran had worked on fifty-ton cranes, earning about two hundred dollars a month. In Qatar, he had learned to use a hundred-ton crane, with a computer, and was making almost seven times as much. “Crane is all math,” Imran said. “It is a very sensitive subject.” He was working on a development on the waterfront.

Two people walking down New York City sidewalk.

Imran was a buoyant, positive soul. But the long, hot days were a killer. He worked twelve-hour shifts and lived an hour’s drive from the construction site. “They have no respect for labor. No respect for other people,” Imran said. When an older relative named Asif joined the conversation, however, Imran deferred to him and agreed that Doha was a good place after all. “People want to show the negative face of this country,” Asif said. “We earn too much money, alhamdulillah .” Asif described critical reporting during the preparation for the World Cup as total bullshit. Until about five months ago, the group of men had lived in Al Wakrah, a suburb south of Doha, where the English team was staying. Their current lodgings were at the rear of a warehouse, the front of which was a scrap yard for old trucks, which were being dismantled for parts to sell in Lebanon and Nigeria. The men slept five to a room. Shalwar kameez, freshly laundered, hung from pegs above their beds. “Wakrah-side was neat and clean,” Imran said. “This side is not neat and clean.” Drinking water was a problem. A vaguely irritating burning smell, from the scrap yard, drifted in the air.

The Industrial Area had a fan zone, a temporary enclosure next to a highway leading out of the city, where workers could follow the World Cup. Like many young men from Pakistan, the laborers from Peshawar weren’t really soccer guys. Next to the fan zone, a game of cricket was taking place in the dust. The fan zone had a large screen and around four thousand plastic garden chairs. Everybody who entered was given a lottery ticket, with a chance to win a water bottle and other merchandise at halftime.

Qatar was playing Senegal, which in its first game had narrowly fallen to the Dutch. I was curious to see whose side the crowd was on, and it was most definitely the Maroon. “Qatar is our second home,” Asif had said. The hosts played better in this game. Each time a Qatari player went over the halfway line, there was wild excitement and the sound of hundreds of plastic chairs tipping over. A few minutes before halftime, Boualem Khoukhi, an Algerian-born defender, who was naturalized to play for Qatar, miscued a clearance and ended up sitting on the turf. Boulaye Dia, a Senegalese striker, slammed in the opening goal. A few rows in front of me, a man stood up and spun around with happiness. The biggest whoops from the rest of the crowd came when the camera settled on a large-breasted Senegal fan. According to figures from 2015, the Industrial Area’s population is 99.02 per cent male.

Qatar lost the match, 3–1. I didn’t see the Maroon’s first and only goal of the tournament because I was politely removed from the fan zone by the manager. It wasn’t a FIFA facility, he explained; it was run by Qatar’s Workers’ Support and Insurance Fund, which disbursed more than three hundred million dollars in unpaid wages to migrant laborers in the first nine months of 2022.

The upsets continued. Morocco beat Belgium, which was ranked second in the world. In Brussels, fans set fire to a car and some electric scooters. The Belgians crashed out in the group stage. There were goal floods—fourteen goals in a single day—and goal droughts. There were five 0–0 draws in the first week, four more than in the entire tournament in 2018. It was unclear whether the winter timing was helping or hurting matters. After defeating Germany, Japan went one better and toppled Spain. The Germans went home. The French looked ominous. The Brazilians, more than anybody else, looked like they were having fun. Before their second match, against Switzerland, the team bus bounced on its suspension in the parking lot of Stadium 974—a reusable structure made largely from shipping containers—and then the players tumbled out, looking sheepish.

The joy of watching the Seleção is not in how it scores stupendous goals. (In Brazil’s first match, against Serbia, Richarlison, a forward, popped the ball over his own shoulder and scored from a bicycle kick.) It is in how the players perform the most ordinary aspects of the game: little dabs here, slippery feints, ugly toe pokes, a shared urge for continual, needless experiment. In the first half against Switzerland, Thiago Silva, Brazil’s thirty-eight-year-old center back, sent the ball out to the left wing with a pass that looked like a chip with a golf club. The game was stodgy, to be honest. But, in the eighty-third minute, Casemiro, who is known as a defensive midfielder, sent a half volley flying into the top corner of the net. Yann Sommer, the Swiss goalkeeper, puffed out his cheeks and watched it go. The Brazilians ran to the corner of the pitch and bounced in a tight huddle. Their fans got going—thousands of windmilling yellow scarves—and soon the temporary stands of Stadium 974 were bouncing, too.

The U.S. team started promisingly, if unspectacularly, with draws against Wales and England. During the England game, in particular, the U.S. played with vigor and nerve, but without making many chances to score. The results left the team needing to beat Iran, of all countries, to progress to the knockout stages. In the semiotics of Qatar 2022, the many meanings of a showdown between the Great Satan and the Islamic Republic were almost too much to process. Two days before the match, the U.S. Soccer Federation displayed images of the group table with the Iranian flag altered to its pre-revolutionary design, in a gesture of solidarity with women protesting against the regime. In response, Iran’s football federation demanded that the U.S. be thrown out of the competition. At a crowded news conference, at which no female reporters were invited to speak, Berhalter, the U.S. coach, apologized, but expressed his support for the Iranian people and team. It was a minefield. By my count, Berhalter was asked twenty questions, nine of which had nothing to do with soccer. Tyler Adams, the team’s twenty-three-year-old captain, was scolded by a reporter from Press TV, an Iranian news channel, for his pronunciation of “Iran,” and was asked what it was like for a Black athlete to represent a racist country. Berhalter was criticized for the way that the U.S. deals with Iranian-passport holders. “I don’t know enough about politics,” he replied. “I’m a soccer coach.”

Berhalter’s opposite number was Queiroz, the sixty-nine-year-old coach of Iran, who was leading the country in a third successive World Cup. Queiroz is one of soccer’s great soldiers of fortune. He played as a goalkeeper in Mozambique before coaching in England, Japan, Portugal, South Africa, and the U.A.E. He did a spell with Colombia. He worked in the M.L.S., the American league. Queiroz is fluent in the language of healing in which the sport likes to speak about itself. He understood that people might see other questions riding on the match, but that wasn’t his concern. “Our mission here is to create entertainment,” he said. “And, at least during ninety minutes, make the people happy.” Queiroz’s father was a coach, too, and Queiroz said that he had taught him never to lie to soccer, which seemed to mean thinking about anything outside the sport. “If my mind falls into the trap,” Queiroz said, “I am lying to football, and I won’t do that.”

Outside Al Thumama Stadium, which was built in the shape of a gahfiya —an Arab woven cap—there were people dressed up as bugs, with large, L.E.D.-lit wings, along with a noticeable police presence. I met Amir Salek, an Iranian venture capitalist who has lived in the U.S. for twenty-seven years. Salek was wearing a star-spangled banner around his waist and a headdress with Iranian colors. He was attending his seventeenth game of the tournament. He thought that the stakes favored the U.S. “The psychology of the Iranian team is that they win if they really, really have to win,” Salek said. “But tonight they can advance with a tie, and that usually is a recipe for failure.”

The noise inside was ferocious. The Iranian fans had brought horns. The crowd was partisan, but polyglot. The flags of Lebanon, Palestine, Croatia, Mexico, and Colombia jumbled together. When Saeid Ezatolahi, an Iranian defensive midfielder, walked out, he raised his arms to the black circle of the sky, as if to better absorb the din. The Iranians never got going. Their play was skillful but disjointed. The U.S. kept its shape and passed in patterns. The team’s midfield trio of Adams, Weston McKennie, and Yunus Musah controlled the tempo. Seven minutes before halftime, Musah played a perfect pass out to the right. Sergiño Dest headed the ball back across goal, and Christian Pulisic hooked it into the net, injuring himself in the process. (Pulisic was taken to the hospital with a pelvic contusion.)

The second half was more of the same. The U.S. created better opportunities, but Iran competed fiercely. A single Iranian goal would have changed everything. The drums never stopped. In the ninety-third minute, Morteza Pouraliganji, an Iranian defender who grew up near the Caspian Sea, sent a low diving header skittering wide of the post. His teammates scratched their heads. Matt Turner, the U.S. goalkeeper, ran down the clock.

At the end, the U.S. substitutes ran onto the field in celebration, while half the Iranian players sank to the exquisite turf. The Iranian coaches and some American players encouraged them to stand up again, but they didn’t want to. So much of the act of watching sport is about making a story, willing a memory into existence—imagining how we want things to be—only for something more prosaic and unexpected to happen in its place. The U.S. went on to face the Netherlands. Qatari V.I.P.s emerged from Al Thumama and were stowed in Bentley S.U.V.s. Drones buzzed in the Doha sky. The hubbub of the dispersing crowd joined with the other sounds of the city. ♦

Two men in sunglasses walk outside Lusail Iconic Stadium before the 2022 World Cup match between Argentina and Saudi...

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Qatar World Cup Mascot is a Ghost-Like Floating Headdress Named La'eeb

The mascot to the 2022 Qatar World Cup has been revealed, and people have thoughts.

The mascot was unveiled during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Draw on April 1 in Doha, Qatar. The character, called La’eeb, resembles the traditional Qatari headdress and during the presentation, he could be seen floating around the screen. 

Social media went abuzz with speculations over the mascot’s inspiration. Some even likened it to Casper, the adorable bald ghost from the children’s animated series. 

It turns out that much of that is left open to interpretation. The FIFA website had this explanation : "La’eeb is a fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all tournament mascots live. La'eeb can be a figment of your imagination. He is whoever a football fan wants him to be."

As for the name itself, FIFA explains that La'eeb is "an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player."

#soccer #WorldCup #Qatar #Laeeb #FIFA #ghost #mascot

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“Ghost of the stadium construction workers”- Fans take a dig at new 2022 FIFA World Cup mascot

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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 mascot.

The official mascot of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar has been unveiled today during the opening ceremony and it has got the fans talking on Twitter. The host country has been criticized for a few weeks now due to their human rights and also because of their unjust treatment of the migrant workers who worked day and night to build the stadiums.

The name of the official mascot is La’eeb known as a “super-skilled player” in the native Arabic language and according to FIFA, “he belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable – everyone is invited to interpret what it looks like’ whilst being described as ‘adventurous, fun and curious.”

Deputy Director General, Khalid Ali Al Mawlawi said, “He comes from the mascot-verse – a place that is indescribable. We encourage everyone to imagine what it looks like. We are sure fans everywhere will love this fun and playful character. La’eeb will play a vital role as we engage fans young and old in Qatar’s FIFA World Cup experience.”

The official FIFA World Cup mascot! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/TxeQBqTsrT — ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 20, 2022

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Some of the Twitter reactions:

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Same vibes pic.twitter.com/KPbYpTSzGz — uBright 🔅… (@ubrightbhebhe) November 20, 2022
They are showing the migrant workers that were dead as a big friendly ghost — NindoGod (@ksuren2110) November 20, 2022
Is that Casper the ghost 🥴 — Franklin Saint (@Grinn_z) November 20, 2022
This mascot looks like it's from a scary movie 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/NIlq26wG9i — Part Time Alien (@voxx_propeller) November 20, 2022
Ghost of the stadium construction workers — Dog The Bounty Hunter (@dogtheb01174881) November 20, 2022
Is that the collective ghost of all the migrant workers who died? — Cat Acc (@catacc22) November 20, 2022

Read more:  Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admits not signing this player was “one of the biggest mistakes in my life”

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  • 06-14-22 | 9:00 am

The Qatar World Cup mascot design is inspired by…a piece of traditional Arab attire

The official mascot of world cup 2022 made a stir on social media, with a lot of comparisons being drawn. we give you insights into its cultural and historical roots and inspiration..

The Qatar World Cup mascot design is inspired by…a piece of traditional Arab attire

If you think of it, the World Cup presents the host nation with the ultimate chance to showcase its people and culture with global attention at its disposal, unlike the scale of any other event. 

Fans worldwide look forward to the big reveal of the official football mascot among the most memorable elements. 

In the history of the quadrennial mega-event, there have been several attempts by nations to showcase their essence in the form of playful, relatable animation. 

This simple practice is unlike McDonald’s Happy Meal releases, but the two acts are strikingly similar. The attempt to relate with children and be the friendly face of the brand or the country remains the same. 

Often, it’s a game of a hit or a miss. The evolution of the mascot has not been without its fair share of controversy either. However rife with subjectivity, a fan favorite was Brazil’s three-banded armadillo Fuleco in 2014. Perhaps it was its striking colors or that it raised awareness about the animal’s environmental threat. 

The first-ever mascot in 1996, Willie the lion with a Union Jack in all its glory, is fondly remembered by fans. Willie was conjured up by one of Enid Blyton’s illustrators, a commercial artist named Reg Hoye.

In contrast, in 2006, Germany employed a duo as its mascots. You may recall Goleo the lion and his talking football, Pille. The goal was to get a younger demographic interested in the game. While they faced criticism for not being indigenous to Germany, the duo garnered a lot of interest and are fondly remembered by fans. Similarly, in 2018, Zabivaka, the wolf from Russia, followed in the footsteps of Puerto Rico’s Naranjito the orange, Footix the football-playing rooster, and Fuleco, the armadillo. 

More recently, the FIFA World Cup 2022 unveiled La’eeb meaning “skilled player” in Arabic, as Qatar’s official mascot, garnering mixed reactions. 

Twitterati was quick to judge La’eeb, boiling its likeness down to a “ghost”, “jinn”, or “tissue paper”. 

From a cultural perspective, La’eeb resembles the Arab headdress known as ghutrah (meaning “to cover” in Arabic), the roots of which lie in Bedouin culture. The traditional white headscarf has been an everyday staple for men – worn for centuries to complement the white kandoura, held in place by the agal, an ornate headband. Other than local merchants, the guthrah has been revamped and sold by luxury brands Giorgio Armani, Aigner, and Gucci, to name a few.

Unlike many mascots of the past, La’eeb is devoid of common cultural elements – namely, camels, falcons, or Arabian onyx – associated with the Middle East. La’eeb is a bit more “innovative, devoid of clichés,” says Mahmood Amr, a senior student at the American University of Sharjah.

La’eeb has also inspired several communities on the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). A China-based coin holder of the La’eeb token says it was launched in a pancake swap in April after major interest was piqued by its “playful” design that has garnered a lot of interest. “After two months in development, the number of token holders is 7,600”. The La’eeb “craze” will crawl on as the World Cup approaches because there is a “group of people in our community who are firmly promoting it every day,” he adds.

Interestingly,  the book, Hats and Headwear around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia records the Arab headdress or guthrah’s several variations across the region. “The ghutrah is an ancient styled square head scarf made of wool, silk, or a cotton blend, used most commonly by men in desert or arid regions of the Middle East and North Africa,” the book states. 

“The average size worn by adult males is approximately four feet by four feet wide. Folded into a triangle, with the crease placed across the forehead, the furthest two points may be pulled under the chin, then around the sides of the neck to the nape where they are tied in the back. 

This method results in a secure fabric shield to help protect the face and neck from blowing desert sand and intense sunlight.  While variations abound, one particularly common type of ghutrah favored by Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinians is the keffiyeh, made of red-and-white or black-and-white checkered heavy cotton fabric with tassels.” 

Now, some young men toss the edges of the scarf over the shoulders or around the head as a style statement. In the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states, the heavy cotton headscarf is called a shemagh, and a lighter white version, the ghutrah.

“La’eeb strikes a familiar chord with many people in the Middle East as it has elements that are traditional to many Arab countries, not just Qatar,” said  Rabi Ezz-Eldine, a Lebanese football enthusiast. “It’s good to see a mascot which is an Arab look-alike.” 

“My first impression was that the logo is good in terms of familiarity, having the FIFA event happening in the region is very beneficial not just for tourism but also for cultural exchange. The Arab mascot compliments that. However, I’d have preferred a different design as this one looks like Casper. It looks happy though. So, a more detailed aesthetic would have added impact,” says Amani Qaddoumi, Brand Designer and Strategist, Founder of alb.

Given that the mascot represents traditional Arab attire, Abbas Alahmadi, a local designer says it could’ve been better represented. “I believe the attire could’ve been better represented through the mascot”, he says. Another Dubai-based graphic designer, Jan Sanchez points out that while the mascot is animated and drawn well and is a fair attempt to represent Arab culture, it falls short because “it only focuses on the clothes of men”, making a case for an alternative design choice to represent the region’s initiatives to support women in sport. 

So while La’eeb may not exactly be the Casper of our dreams, he is representative of the region’s roots that goes back eons. While the guthrah is still worn by nomads of the desert, you see royalty, officials, soldiers, delegations, models and entrepreneurs dawning it, too. 

This may explain why the official trailer showcases La’eeb in a mascot-verse wherein he meets mascots of the past tournaments and explains his complex association with football. In addition to creating the first-ever flying mascot, La’eeb’s creation marks several milestones. He’s the first representative of Middle Eastern culture to join the heritage of FIFA World Cup mascots. But what many have missed is he’s probably the first wardrobe essential to be made a mascot. After all, the guthrah is iconic – it has stood the test of time and is still worn by Arabs across the region. 

Will this be the destiny of La’eeb? Time will tell as it did for the humble guthrah.

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'Why is Casper playing football?': Social media pours scorn on 'TERRIBLE' Qatar World Cup mascot 'La'eeb' after its unveiling before the draw... with some comparing it to the cartoon ghost

  • The mascot for the 2022 World Cup was revealed before the draw on Friday
  • FIFA revealed the mascot called 'La'eeb', with many comparing it to a ghost
  • Social media users were unimpressed by the mascot and labelled it 'terrible' 

By Kieran Lynch For Mailonline

Published: 14:13 EST, 1 April 2022 | Updated: 15:41 EST, 1 April 2022

View comments

Social media has been left unimpressed by the new mascot for the 2022 Qatar World Cup  - comparing it to Casper the Friendly Ghost.

The mascot called 'La'eeb' was unveiled before teams discovered who they will play in the group stages of the tournament later this year.   

La'eeb is an Arabic word meaning 'super-skilled player' with FIFA 's website claiming that he 'belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable.'

Social media has poured scorn on FIFA's unveiling of 'La'eeb' (right) as the mascot the 2022 World Cup

Social media has poured scorn on FIFA's unveiling of 'La'eeb' (right) as the mascot the 2022 World Cup

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They said everyone is invited to interpret what the mascot looks like and on social media a number of people made the same comparison.

One Twitter user asked: 'Isn't that Casper,' while another responded: 'Okay who had ghost napkin in the mascot sweepstakes?'

Another user commented: 'Why is Casper playing football??? The thing doesn't even have feet like.'

He's come from the mascot-verse full of energy and is ready to bring the joy of football to everyone! Introducing: La'eeb - the #FIFAWorldCup Qatar 2022 Official Mascot pic.twitter.com/RrEA6iS6t4 — FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) April 1, 2022

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Several people poured scorn on the mascot with Cam Felton writing: 'Well that's terrible,' while SuttonDruck posted: 'What is this. Like actually what is this.'

WVPitt commented: 'The mascot looks like the towel we used to clean our kid's faces when they were babies.'

While a Barcelona fan commented: 'Why does he look like Ronaldo of big games.'

Another user posted that La'eeb 'didn't hold a candle' to the mascot of the 1982 World Cup in Spain which was called 'Naranjito'. 

Social media users have compared the mascot of the tournament to cartoon character Casper

Social media users have compared the mascot of the tournament to cartoon character Casper

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The World Cup draw saw England put in Group B alongside Iran, USA and one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine

Khalid Ali Al Mawlawi, deputy director general of marketing and commubications told FIFA's official website: 'We are delighted to unveil La’eeb as the Official Mascot for the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. He comes from the mascot-verse – a place that is indescribable. 

'We encourage everyone to imagine what it looks like. We are sure fans everywhere will love this fun and playful character. La’eeb will play a vital role as we engage fans young and old in Qatar’s FIFA World Cup experience.'

The World Cup draw saw England put into Group B where they will face the United States, Iran and one of Wales, Scotland and Ukraine. 

The hosts meanwhile will face Ecuador in the first match of the tournament and are in a group also consisting of Senegal and the Netherlands. 

SPORTSMAIL'S GUIDE TO ENGLAND'S OPPONENTS 

Who's the manager?

Dragan Skocic  - The Croatian coach was appointed in February 2020 as a replacement for former Belgium manager Marc Wilmots and has guided Iran through qualifying and to their sixth World Cup appearances.

Skocic has great experience of the Iranian football system, having worked with domestic clubs  Malavana and Foolad. He has a sublime track record so far, winning 15 of the 17 games he has overseen as manager.

Who's the star man?

Sardar Azmoun - Azmoun was once a target for Liverpool in the Brendan Rodgers era at Anfield after impressing in Russia. A move to Anfield never materialised though and instead he stayed and joined Zenit St Petersburg, scoring 62 goals in 104 games.

His big move came in January when German side Bayer Leverkusen opted to bring forward his arrival to the Bundesliga from this summer. The 27-year-old is yet to find the back of the net for his new club but his speed and pressing will be a problem for teams in Qatar.

How did they qualify?

After working their way through the deep qualifying pool in Asia, Iran finished top of the AFC's third round - a round robin system featuring the seven group winners and five best runners-up.

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating Son Heung-min and South Korea to top spot. 

Chance of winning the trophy - 1/5

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating South Korea to top spot

Iran won their group with eight wins from 10 matches, beating South Korea to top spot

United States

Gregg Berhalter - Berhalter was handpicked to take over as US coach back in 2018 when he was plucked from MLS franchise Columbus Crew as part of a huge reset following a shambolic 2-1 defeat by Trinidad and Tobago that saw them miss out.

After an uninspiring first year in charge, Berhalter has managed to make the most of the promising crop of American talent springing up across Europe and get a tune out of them. A former defender, the 48-year-old represented the US at two World Cups - 2002 and 2006. 

Christian Pulisic - The Chelsea winger has been the poster boy for American football for a number of years and had to put up with team-mates that simply just weren't as good as him.

But now he has some back-up in the form of Tyler Adams, Giovanni Reyna, Ricardo Pepi, Sergino Dest and Weston McKennie. With a hat-trick against Panama earlier this week, Pulisic proved he will be their biggest threat in Qatar.

It was nerve-shredding but the US sealed their place at Qatar this week by claiming the third and final automatic space in North America behind Canada and Mexico, despite losing to Costa Rica in their final match.

Their place was all but sealed before the game after beating Panama earlier in the week but still, a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica is not exactly how you want to celebrate a World Cup return. 

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be the United States' key attacking player in Qatar

Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic will be the United States' key attacking player in Qatar 

Wales v Scotland/Ukraine

England will have to wait to find out who will be the fourth team to round up Group B.

Wales are set to play the winners of Scotland against Ukraine in June to discover who will make the tournament in Qatar.

It means England face the prospect of a potential Home Nations tie against Wales or Scotland.

Wales have only ever reached the World Cup finals once, way back in 1958, when they progressed through a group phase to reach the quarter-finals, losing to eventual winners Brazil in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Gareth Bale scored twice as Wales beat Austria 2-1 in their semi-final play-off match.

Scotland meanwhile have not played at a World Cup since France in 1998 when they were knocked out in a group which involved Morocco, Norway and Brazil.

Steve Clarke's side managed to frustrate England at the European Championships last summer, holding them to a goalless draw though they were knocked out at the group stage.

England also faced Ukraine at the European Championships a 4-0 win in the quarter-finals.

Ukraine's delayed match with Scotland comes on the back of the invasion by Russia.

WORLD CUP MATCH SCHEDULE

Group stage

Monday, November 21

Qatar v Ecuador - Al Bayt Stadium, 10am

Senegal v Holland

England v Iran

USA v Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Tuesday, November 22

Argentina v Saudi Arabia

Mexico v Poland

France v Peru/UAE/Australia

Denmark v Tunisia

Wednesday, November 23

Spain v Costa Rica/New Zealand

Germany v Japan

Belgium v Canada

Morocco v Croatia

Thursday, November 24

Brazil v Serbia

Switzerland v Cameroon

Portugal v Ghana

Uruguay v South Korea

Friday, November 25

England v USA

Iran v Wales/Scotland/Ukraine

Qatar v Senegal

Holland v Ecuador

Saturday, November 26

France v Denmark

Tunisia v Peru/UAE/Australia

Argentina v Mexico

Poland v Saudi Arabia

Sunday, November 27

Belgium v Morocco

Croatia v Canada

Spain v Germany

Japan v Costa Rica/New Zealand

Monday, November 28

Portugal v Uruguay

South Korea v Ghana

Brazil v Switzerland

Cameroon v Serbia

Tuesday, November 29

Holland v Qatar

Ecuador v Senegal

Wales/Scotland/Ukraine v England

Wednesday, November 30

Poland v Argentina

Saudi Arabia v Mexico

Tunisia v France

Peru/UAE/Australia v Denmark

Thursday, December 1

Japan v Spain

Costa Rica/New Zealand v Germany

Croatia v Belgium

Canada v Morocco

Friday, December 2

Cameroon v Brazil

Serbia v Switzerland

South Korea v Portugal

Ghana v Uruguay

Saturday, December 3

Match 49 - 1A v 2B - Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm

Match 50 - 1C v 2D - Al Rayyan Stadium, 7pm

Sunday, December 4

Match 52 - 1D v 2C - Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm

Match 51 - 1B v 2A - Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Monday, December 5

Match 53 - 1E v 2F - Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm

Match 54 - 1G v 2H - Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, 7pm

Tuesday, December 6

Match 55 - 1F v 2E - Education City Stadium, 3pm

Match 56 - 1H v 2G - Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Quarter-finals

Friday, December 9

Match 57 - Winner of Match 49 v Winner Match 50 - Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Match 58 - Winner of Match 53 v Winner Match 54 - Education City Stadium, 3pm

Saturday, December 10

Match 59 - Winner Match 51 v Winner Match 52 - Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Match 60 - Winner Match 55 v Winner Match 56 - Al Thumama Stadium, 3pm

Semi-finals

Tuesday, December 13

Match 61 - Winner Match 57 v Winner Match 58 - Lusail Stadium, 7pm

Wednesday, December 14

Match 62 - Winner Match 59 v Winner Match 60 - Al Bayt Stadium, 7pm

Third-place play-off

Saturday, December 17

Match 63 - Khalifa International Stadium, 3pm

Sunday, December 18

Match 64 - Lusail Stadium, 3pm

Kick-off times and venues for group stage matches to be assigned on Saturday.

All kick-off times where given are GMT.  

Share or comment on this article: Social media pours scorn on Qatar World Cup mascot 'La'eeb' after its unveiling before the draw

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Qatar hopes World Cup flying headdress will be 2022 vuvuzela

Lusail (Qatar) (AFP) – Qatar wants the 2022 World Cup mascot of a flying white headdress to symbolise football's showcase tournament, just as the noisy vuvuzela horn did when South Africa hosted it in 2010.

Issued on: 06/10/2022 - 12:26 Modified: 06/10/2022 - 12:24

A flying keffiyah headdress named La'eeb, meaning super skilful player in Arabic, is the official World Cup mascot and is omnipresent on billboards across Qatar and on television.

"La'eeb is a fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all tournament mascots live," world football's governing body FIFA said in its announcement.

"He will bring the joy of football to everyone."

The keffiyeh headdress, also known in the Gulf as a shemagh or a ghutra, is designed to protect against the sun, sand and dust.

But it has not shielded World Cup 2022 organisers from jibes on social media.

Reaction to La'eeb has been mixed.

Twitter comments have mockingly compared La'eeb to the cartoon character "Casper the Friendly Ghost" or a flying bedsheet.

But it has its fans too.

La'eeb has been adopted by some internet blockchain communities in China which have issued tokens bearing the mascot's likeness.

Qatar's World Cup organisers would like to see a repeat of the Club 2019 World Cup championship when players from the Mexican side Monterrey wore keffiyehs after winning a match.

Bertrand Roine, who won the world handball title with France and then moved to play for Qatar, has with his business partner developed the keffiyeh's link to the World Cup by designing headdresses in the national colours of the 32 countries taking part.

Roine hopes the colourful scarves will become "symbol" of the games.

"One friend told me, you have made a vuvuzela for Qatar," he said.

South Africa's deafening vuvuzela plastic horns blew their way to worldwide notoriety with fans enthusiastically honking them at every goal.

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  • Politics & Security
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Qatar hopes World Cup flying headdress will be 2022 vuvuzela

La'eeb, the official mascot for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Qatar wants the 2022 World Cup mascot of a flying white headdress to symbolise football's showcase tournament, just as the noisy vuvuzela horn did when South Africa hosted it in 2010.

A flying keffiyah headdress named La'eeb, meaning super skilful player in Arabic, is the official World Cup mascot and is omnipresent on billboards across Qatar and on television.

"La'eeb is a fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all tournament mascots live," world football's governing body FIFA said in its announcement.

"He will bring the joy of football to everyone."

The keffiyeh headdress, also known in the Gulf as a shemagh or a ghutra, is designed to protect against the sun, sand and dust.

Keffiyah headdress scarves have been made in the national colours of the 32 countries taking part in the World Cup tournament

But it has not shielded World Cup 2022 organisers from jibes on social media.

Reaction to La'eeb has been mixed.

Twitter comments have mockingly compared La'eeb to the cartoon character "Casper the Friendly Ghost" or a flying bedsheet.

But it has its fans too.

La'eeb has been adopted by some internet blockchain communities in China which have issued tokens bearing the mascot's likeness.

Bertrand Roine and Didier Grande are pictured with fan scarves they designed in the national colours of teams playing in the football World Cup

Qatar's World Cup organisers would like to see a repeat of the Club 2019 World Cup championship when players from the Mexican side Monterrey wore keffiyehs after winning a match.

Bertrand Roine, who won the world handball title with France and then moved to play for Qatar, has with his business partner developed the keffiyeh's link to the World Cup by designing headdresses in the national colours of the 32 countries taking part.

Roine hopes the colourful scarves will become "symbol" of the games.

"One friend told me, you have made a vuvuzela for Qatar," he said.

South Africa's deafening vuvuzela plastic horns blew their way to worldwide notoriety with fans enthusiastically honking them at every goal.

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Am I the only one who doesn't hate the Fifa World Cup mascot?

Just look at that smile.

With the Fifa World Cup now underway, we've been reminded of the that friendly ghost/napkin mascot, created to accompany the games. It caused much confusion when it was announced earlier this year, and I remain totally baffled. 

Named La'eeb, Fifa describes the character as "indescribable", which might explain why everyone's having such a hard time deciding what he's meant to be. But despite the confusion, I'm still finding La'eeb to be a pretty charming example of character design.  

He's come from the mascot-verse full of energy and is ready to bring the joy of football to everyone! Introducing: La'eeb - the #FIFAWorldCup Qatar 2022 Official Mascot pic.twitter.com/RrEA6iS6t4 April 1, 2022

According to Fifa , La’eeb is "an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player." Rather than the metaverse , he is said to come from "the mascot-verse" (chortle, chortle), and get ready – he's going to be "everywhere". "Fans will soon be able to download GIFs and stickers of La’eeb via a host of social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram , Twitter , TikTok , WhatsApp and Snapchat. La’eeb screensavers and filters will also be available for people to download," says Fifa.

But as many have pointed out, it's a little strange to see a "super-skilled player" without any, you know, legs. And from Casper the friendly ghost to a floating napkin to a towel, fans are revelling in mocking the supposedly indescribable character. "Why is Casper playing football? He doesn't even have feet," one Twitter user comments, while another adds, "Okay, who had Ghost Napkin in the 2022 mascot sweepstakes?" Some have speculated that La'eeb is supposed to be a Shemagh scarf, but it's odd for Fifa to take pains to tell us "everyone is invited to interpret what [La'eeb] looks like" rather than just tell us that's the case.

And yet despite the sheer nothingness of his character ("he's whatever you want him to be" seems a bit of a cop-out from Fifa), I kind of... love La'eeb? It's the face, I think. Look at that smile! He looks so happy, so eager to help – even though his ghost/napkin-like form would render him utterly useless for practically any task, except perhaps for helping me to avoid spilling my dinner on myself. But he wants to help, and I appreciate it, La'eeb, I really do. And just look how hard he's trying to kick that ball, even though it's never, ever going to happen. That kind of tenacity is what we need in the world.

Okay, perhaps I've spent too long looking at/writing about animated character controversies in 2022. After the explosive response to both Minnie Mouse and the Green M&M 's redesigns this year, perhaps I'm just happy to see a character who's little more than a happy face.  

From Casper-gate to the new football design , the 2022 World Cup has proved controversial from a design perspective. If you reckon you could come up with a slightly more, er, solid character design, take a look at our guide on how to download Illustrator .

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Daniel John

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.

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La'eeb, Japan’s Yamashita Yoshimi and David Beckham

From robot VARs to air-cooling: nine things to look out for at Qatar 2022

A look at some of the unusual, innovative and less palatable features of the coming World Cup

1) Robot offsides

It’s a new chapter in VAR’s “ undisputable success story ”, says Fifa: 12 roof-level limb-tracking cameras plus an in-ball sensor. When the data hits, a robot draws toenail lines for the VAR; the VAR checks them, tells the referee and sends a 3D model to broadcasters. Fifa says it will cut the average 70-second wait before a goal can be celebrated down to “just 25 seconds” – and anyone who says it’s sucking the life out of football is wrong: “We are very proud of this work.” Also new this winter: a chance to see more than half a starting XI subbed off in a game – five subs in normal time and another in extra time – while benches will expand to 15 players, up from 12.

2) Female referees

At welcome odds with regional vibes, three of the 36 referees are, for the first time in men’s World Cup history, female: Japan’s Yamashita Yoshimi, the Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and Stéphanie Frappart of France – as are three of 69 assistants. Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor are the Premier League faces, while Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe makes the cut despite a tough Africa Cup of Nations in January where he ended a game early twice in three minutes , blaming heat exhaustion.

Qatar: beyond the football

qatar ghost mascot

It was a World Cup like no other. For the last 12 years the Guardian has been reporting on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is gathered on our dedicated  Qatar: Beyond the Football  home page for those who want to go deeper into the issues beyond the pitch.

Guardian reporting goes far beyond what happens on the pitch. Support our investigative journalism today .

3) This mascot

At La’eeb’s launch in April, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy played up his lack of fixed identity and asked fans to tell them what he looked like. “Use your imagination … La’eeb is whoever a football fan wants him to be.” That went as well as could be expected – fans quickly agreeing he looks most like the ghost of a dead migrant worker. The official biog has tightened since then: La’eeb, meaning “super-skilled player”, is an “adventurous, fun, curious” sprite based on a ghutra headdress who “comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all mascots live”.

La’eeb, the official mascot of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

4) Official songs

Most World Cups have to get by with only one official song. Qatar has the “Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022™ Official Soundtrack” instead – “part of Fifa’s revamped music strategy”. Among the tracks are Hayya Hayya by Trinidad Cardona, Davido and Aisha, chorus: “Yo yo yo, yo ho, You know we better together”; and Light the Sky by Rahma, Balqees, Nora and Manal, whose message is much more Doha: “If you feel like a star, then you feel like me, Gotta treat yourself, like a VIP.”

5) The opening ceremony

Sunday 20 November, before Qatar v Ecuador. Rumoured acts include Waka Waka’s Shakira, BTS and the Fifa Official Soundtrack artists, all there to “celebrate and embody everything the Fifa World Cup stands for”. It’ll be held at Al Bayt Stadium, where 28-year-old Nepalese migrant Sanjib Raya died of heart failure working a 12-hour shift in 40-degree heat for £1 an hour.

6) The official ball

Adidas’s Al Rihla has “Speedshell PU skin” inspired by “the culture, architecture, iconic boats and flag of Qatar”, with “macro- and microtextures and surface debossing”, “CRT-Core” technology and a strong PR game. Yours for £130 . Fifa says “it travels faster in flight than any ball in the tournament’s history”, which is similar to what they said about 2010’s Jabulani . So, fingers crossed.

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Fifa President Gianni Infantino holds the official 2022 World Cup match ball, called “Al Rihla”.

7) Air-cooling technology

Plenty for fans of air-cooling pipes to enjoy: seven of the eight grounds are equipped with chilled water-based aircon systems. Fifa denies that the tech, along with new roads and 150 flights a day, will have a negative environmental impact; with organisers making a “landmark” carbon neutrality pledge. Or as Carbon Market Watch called it in May, an “absolutely not credible carbon neutrality pledge”.

Part of the cooling system at the al-Janoub Stadium.

8) Alternative facts

David Beckham faced plenty of criticism for taking a reported £10m a year to sportswash Qatar, but hasn’t been slow to shine a light on the nation, including in this video about visiting Qatar, released in August: “Qatar really is an incredible place to spend a few days on a stopover. The modern and traditional fuse to create something really special. It’s one of the best spice markets that I’ve ever been to. This will go down as one of my favourite mornings. This is perfection.” Expect more positivity elsewhere, too, with the Supreme Committee giving 400 social media-influencing fans free trips in return for positive comments . Influencers had to sign a code of conduct making clear “it would obviously not be appropriate for you to disparage Qatar [or] the Supreme Committee”, and: “You understand that the Supreme Committee will be monitoring your posts.”

9) Managers giving half-time interviews

Though maybe not many: Fifa’s new half-time flash interview slot is “not compulsory”. The BBC and ITV share the TV rights this winter – up to four games a day from 10am plus highlights, making for scheduling tension: Strictly’s quarter- and semi-finals have been bumped to Friday 2 and Sunday 11 December, while Matt Hancock’s planned win in the I’m a Celebrity final is up against Spain v Germany.

  • World Cup 2022
  • Video assistant referees (VARs)
  • Football politics

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2022 FIFA World Cup

Who is the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 mascot?

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Qatar officials and FIFA collaborated on the development of the mascot

The FIFA World Cup 2022 , the most awaited event in all of football, has been creating a lot of buzzes since Qatar was selected to host this mega event. It is already a big event. But the fact that this is the first World Cup that is taking place in the Middle East has kept all news pertaining to the event at the forefront. Organizers have also worked hard to make this tournament better than ever, and Qatar has undergone a complete revamp.

As well as trying to make this tournament memorable. Qatari officials also tried to showcase the rich Arab culture to the world. They did this with their Emblem, which was inspired by Qatari culture and lifestyle. Similarly, the mascot that was released during the group draws this year depicts the perfect resemblance of middle-east countries.

Who is the 2022 World Cup Mascot?

There is no doubt that the Mascots of World Cups are some of the most entertaining aspects of the tournament. The mascot trend started with the 1966 England World Cup. These mascots are now referred to by FIFA as being part of the mascot-verse, which is parallel to the human realm. The first one to start the show was 'Willie' the 1966 world cup lion.

There have always been popular mascots, such as Zakumi, a leopard from South Africa, Fuleco, an armadillo from Brazil, and Zabibvaka, a wolf from Russia who was all deemed as works of art. In the case of the 2022 World Cup, however, the mascot is not an animal, and it has the name "La'eeb".

Also Read: What does the FIFA World Cup 2022 logo mean?

What does La'eeb mean?

The 2022 world cup mascot was unveiled in an intriguing video by Moroccan producer RedOne during the group stage draw this year. At the first glance, La'eeb appears to be a flying ghost, a hanging jinn, or a piece of tissue. La'eeb, however, wears a gutra, a traditional headdress for men in Arab and Qatari cultures.

FIFA has described La'eeb as a " fun and mischievous character who comes from the mascot-verse. A parallel world where all tournament mascots live," in its official unveiling presentation. 

La'eeb is the 15th addition to the World Mascots-verse and means "super-skilled player" in Arabic. It conveys a message of love for all people around the world who love the sport and emphasizes the importance of opportunity for all. 

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FIFA Qatar World Cup Mascot Football Size 5

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  • Officially licensed FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 Mascot
  • 12 Panel Ball
  • 2.7mm shiny PVC

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  2. Soccer Mascot La'eeb: The Bizarre Story of the Ghost of Qatar

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  3. Qatar world cup ghost mascot bloody blood marks

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  4. La mascota del Mundial Qatar 2022: cómo se llama, qué es y qué

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  5. La Mascota De La Copa Mundial De Qatar 2022. Fantasma. El Símbolo De Un

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  6. Official mascot of the Qatar world cup is the ghost of all the workers

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COMMENTS

  1. La'eeb

    Laʼeeb ( Arabic: لعيب, romanized : Laʿīb) was the official mascot of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, [1] which was held in Qatar. [2] The name means "super-skilled player" in Arabic, [3] and is a representation of the popular men's headdress keffiyeh, used in many parts of the Arab world. [4]

  2. La'eeb (Qatar World Cup Mascot)

    About La'eeb (Qatar 2022 World Cup Mascot) is the official mascot of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that drew attention on social media during the tournament's opening ceremony.

  3. La'eeb is revealed as Qatar's FIFA World Cup™ mascot

    3 Apr 2022 Share Qatar and FIFA have unveiled La'eeb as the Official Mascot for this year's FIFA World Cup 2022™. Qatar and FIFA have unveiled La'eeb as the Official Mascot for this...

  4. FIFA World Cup 2022 mascot: What La'eeb means, inspiration behind it

    Also read: FIFA World Cup 2022: All you need to know about the tournament in Qatar. La'eeb is an Arabic word meaning "super-skilled player". La'eeb resembles Casper, the friendly ghost. According to FIFA, "He belongs to a parallel mascot-verse that is indescribable - everyone is invited to interpret what it looks like.

  5. Frazzled Qatar team fluff their lines on World Cup's surreal opening

    Before this match we saw the World Cup mascot, a ghost, and Ecuador went through the hosts with just as much ease Barney Ronay at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor @barneyronay Sun 20 Nov 2022 15.47 EST...

  6. What is the World Cup 2022 mascot? Explaining name, meaning and story

    Meet La'eeb, the Qatar 2022 official World Cup mascot! La'eeb was first revealed at the FIFA World Cup draw back on April 1 in Doha, Qatar, and joins a long tradition of mascots launched...

  7. At Qatar's World Cup, Where Politics and Pleasure Collide

    By Sam Knight December 3, 2022 The entire world was in Doha, in generally small proportions. Pan-Arab feeling was strong, and a Saudi victory kick-started the tournament. Photographs by Max...

  8. Qatar World Cup Mascot is a Ghost-Like Floating Headdress Named La'eeb

    Qatar World Cup Mascot is a Ghost-Like Floating Headdress Named La'eeb Qatar World Cup Mascot is a Ghost-Like Floating Headdress Named La'eeb The mascot to the 2022 Qatar World Cup has been revealed, and people have thoughts. The mascot was unveiled during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Draw on April 1 in Doha, Qatar.

  9. FIFA World Cup 2022: From La'eeb to Willie, a history of ...

    This edition sees the introduction of the "adventurous, fun and curious" La'eeb, who resembles Casper — the friendly ghost, as the mascot for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He's come from the mascot-verse full of energy and is ready to bring the joy of football to everyone!

  10. "Ghost of the stadium construction workers"- Fans take a dig at new

    La'eeb, the official mascot of the FIFA World Cup at the opening ceremony in Qatar. Same vibes pic.twitter.com/KPbYpTSzGz — uBright 🔅… (@ubrightbhebhe) November 20, 2022 They are showing the migrant workers that were dead as a big friendly ghost — NindoGod (@ksuren2110) November 20, 2022 Is that Casper the ghost 🥴

  11. The Qatar World Cup mascot design is inspired by…a piece of traditional

    06-14-22 | 9:00 am The Qatar World Cup mascot design is inspired by…a piece of traditional Arab attire The official mascot of World Cup 2022 made a stir on social media, with a lot of comparisons being drawn. We give you insights into its cultural and historical roots and inspiration. [Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East ]

  12. Social media pours scorn on Qatar World Cup mascot 'La'eeb'

    Social media has been left unimpressed by the new mascot for the 2022 Qatar World Cup - comparing it to Casper the Friendly Ghost. The mascot called 'La'eeb' was unveiled before teams...

  13. Learn About FIFA World Cup Mascots (1982-2022)

    La'eeb - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The name "La'eeb," the mascot for the Qatar competition, is derived from the Arabic phrase "super-skilled player." This mascot is unique compared to its forebears since it is a member of the "mascot-verse," a parallel reality. He borrows his features from the "Ghutra" and "Egal," two classic Qatari ...

  14. La'eeb is revealed as Qatar's FIFA World Cup™ mascot

    Qatar and FIFA have unveiled La'eeb as the Official Mascot for this year's FIFA World Cup 2022™. La'eeb is an Arabic word meaning super-skilled player. He belongs to a parallel...

  15. 2022 FIFA World Cup: Mascot La'eeb welcomes the world to Qatar

    Get excited about the 2022 FIFA World Cup through animated mascot La'eeb's introduction and welcome to Qatar.#FOXSoccer #FIFA #WorldCupSUBSCRIBE to get the l...

  16. Qatar hopes World Cup flying headdress will be 2022 vuvuzela

    Qatar wants the 2022 World Cup mascot of a flying white headdress to symbolise football's showcase tournament, just as the noisy vuvuzela horn did when South Africa hosted it in 2010.

  17. Qatar hopes World Cup flying headdress will be 2022 vuvuzela

    A flying keffiyah headdress named La'eeb, meaning super skilful player in Arabic, is the official World Cup mascot and is omnipresent on billboards across Qatar and on television.

  18. Am I the only one who doesn't hate the Fifa World Cup mascot?

    Okay, perhaps I've spent too long looking at/writing about animated character controversies in 2022. After the explosive response to both Minnie Mouse and the Green M&M's redesigns this year, perhaps I'm just happy to see a character who's little more than a happy face.. From Casper-gate to the new football design, the 2022 World Cup has proved controversial from a design perspective.

  19. FIFA World Cup 2022: Who is the Qatar WC mascot?

    The official logo for the 2022 Qatar World Cup is seen on the Doha Tower, in Doha, Qatar, September 3, 2019. | Photo Credit: REUTERS. The mascot for the FIFA World Cup 2022 is 'La'eeb'. It is inspired by the keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men. 'La'eeb' in Arabic translates to 'super-skilled player', in ...

  20. From robot VARs to air-cooling: nine things to look out for at Qatar

    3) This mascot At La'eeb's launch in April, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy played up his lack of fixed identity and asked fans to tell them what he looked like. "Use your ...

  21. La'eeb

    La'eeb - The Official Mascot of FIFA || WORLD CUP 2022 || OPENING CEREMONY || DOHA QATAR#albaytstadium #doha #qatar #openingceremonyworldcup2022 #openingcere...

  22. Who is the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 mascot?

    The 2022 world cup mascot was unveiled in an intriguing video by Moroccan producer RedOne during the group stage draw this year. At the first glance, La'eeb appears to be a flying ghost, a hanging jinn, or a piece of tissue. La'eeb, however, wears a gutra, a traditional headdress for men in Arab and Qatari cultures.

  23. FIFA Qatar World Cup Mascot Football Size 5

    Officially licensed FIFA Qatar World Cup 2022 Mascot; 12 Panel Ball; 2.7mm shiny PVC; Related Products. adidas Oceaunz Club Football - Size 5. $12.00 $30.00. adidas Oceaunz Training Football - Size 5. $28.00 $35.00. adidas Oceaunz Club Football - Size 5. $12.00 $30.00. adidas Oceaunz Club Football - Size 5.