AL KHOR Qatar — The highway stretches out into nowhere, its surface pristine, the Slowly, the Doha’s glass-strewn spires are falling in the distance. It passes the Ghost city of Lusail with its cranes motionless in the desert air. Nothing can be found for miles. but Asphalt and sand and the sky the Only one thing can break the horizon: the The incredible outline of the Al Bayt Stadium.

Fans had been thronging towards it all day, choking. the Filling the road with traffic the A cavalcade busload awaited them when they disembarked Qatar’s box-fresh subway system, as if the The stadium, an oasis in the landscape of absence, was a magnet.

They arrived with flags tied around their waists and draped across their shoulders. Their faces were painted and their jerseys proudly displayed. This was a vision for international peace: not just Qataris or Ecuadoreans. but Uruguayans, Brazilians, Mexicans and Ghanaians all walk through the Perfect artificial lawns surround the Stadium, meandering past babbling stream, leisure ponds lined by paddle boats, and flocks quite confused geese.

Fans had been waiting for this moment for quite some time. QatarYou can find more information at the On the other hand, they have spent over a decade actively creating it. It has been working for it for twelve years. the cold, hard cost. It has committed somewhere in the It is estimated that $220 billion will be spent on construction of stadiums and skyscrapers. but It is possible to create entire cities or transport systems from scratch.

Finally, it was here. the Last word in Qatar’s attempt to announce itself to the To show the world all that it can do and all that it might build. It’s not just about the stadium with a roof that resembles a Bedouin tent but the The opening ceremony is also now a spectacle, a normally subdued affair.

The show started with a homily to unity from Morgan Freeman — albeit one that included at least one or two pointed lines, seemingly directed at this tournament’s critics in Europe and North America — taking in the sweep of World Cup History and ending with a new song from Jung Kook the K-pop’s star was by many orders of magnitude the most famous person in the stadium.

Qatar’s Emir, the One man who was there at the right time the Start at the All of it was a project. the All are welcome to attend the closing ceremony. the The world is to Qatar — “people of different races, faiths and orientations” — for an event being staged, he said, “for the good of all humanity.” It was inspiring. The spectacle was stunning. The applause was overwhelming. This was Qatar’s fantasy, made flesh.

Next the soccer started.

Qatar’s project to build a team for this World Cup It pales in comparison to and is much more expensive than it was. the Rest of the country’s expenditure on the tournament. This should come as no surprise. World CupAfter all, he is not for the to show that it is a legitimate sporting power. Its soccer preparations are, however, just as ambitious and extraordinary.

The country’s authorities had not only invested in some of the The most advanced training facilities available the These are the ones that have been a constant port-of-call for teams across the globe the globe. They also embarked on a global search for talent and built a network of academies in Africa.

One point: Qatar To invest in European club clubs to provide the The vast farm system provides the opportunity for elite competition and brightest prospects. It hired expert coaches from the most adored youth academies. They were given the task of teaching Qatari footballers. the Most advanced and cutting-edge styles for soccer.

It had done it all, and not just with this tournament in its mind. but This was it, one moment. It was their chance to prove it. Qatar At the very least, could match Europe the Rest of the The world at its own game and that it could no less find a shortcut towards success in sport than in almost any other field. This was not only. the crescendo. This was the point.

At the the moment it arrived, everything was perfect. Qatar froze. Félix Sánchez, the country’s Spanish coach, has enjoyed no little success in his time in charge. His team was named champion of Asia in 2019. It has faced teams of similar standards and maybe even more glamour than Ecuador and won.

Here the World CupBut, it was vital when it really mattered. Qatar You were overwhelmed the Stage, by the By reducing pressure the It all weighs in at a certain weight, using a combination of the three. Ecuador may have taken the Lead after 158 seconds, through Enner Valdez, a veteran forward who was completing his career in Turkey. the Goal is ruled out the Video assistant referee. The reprieve didn’t last. Valencia won the penalty and scored it after 16 minutes. Valencia then scored again after just over half an hour.

Qatar They could only manage a solitary response. The crowd was silent. the There is no sound from which to speak the Massive crowds of Ecuadoreans jubilant and a single group of about 100 supporters behind one goal. All of them were dressed in uniform burgundy t-shirts, many with more tattoos. the Average Qatari: Their songs and movements are choreographed and clearly practiced.

They sang endlessly, their loyalty to the Qatari causes are admirably strong and unaffected, their sound so removed from context that they lost any meaning or significance

The rest of the However, the crowd started to fade slowly. Many fans were not able to return to their seats after the half-time break. As the second half rolled to its inevitable conclusion — Ecuador comfortable, content to coast in low power mode — more and more followed them, those sections of the stadiums not dominated South Americans now have vast areas of empty seats.

The outside world is home to the Qataris who were drawn here from the stadium in the Desert began to leave it and make their way back. the oasis and striking out, onto that pristine surface the asphalt and the Sand and the sky. They headed towards once more to the A shimmering city the bay is a place made to look fantastical, and where all the necessary measures have been taken to make sure that reality doesn’t intrude.