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FIFA President Infantino hails Qatar World Cup 2022 group stage as 'best ever'

The group stage at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar has been hailed as the “best ever” by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

football FIFA President Gianni Infantino hails Qatar World Cup 2022 group stage as 'best ever' snt
First Published Dec 7, 2022, 7:14 PM IST

FIFA president Gianni Infantino praised the World Cup 2022 group stage in Qatar as the "best ever." 

Amazing upsets occurred during the tournament's initial round, with Saudi Arabia's victory over Argentina constituting the first significant shock. Morocco defeated Belgium and tied with Croatia to win their pool, while Japan also defeated Germany and Spain to win their group.

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Infantino claims that there has never been a tournament more dramatic as the last round of matches, where qualification for the last 16 came down to the wire in some of the groups.

"I have seen all the matches, indeed, and put very simply and very clearly, this has been the best group stage of a FIFA World Cup ever. So, it's very promising for the remainder of the FIFA World Cup," Infantino said.

"The matches have been of great, great quality in beautiful stadiums – we knew that already. However, as well, the public who was there was incredible. Over 51,000 on average," the FIFA boss added.

Infantino's strange "Today I feel gay" comment the day before the tournament started sparked debate and offended several people.

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Despite FIFA's statements that it had guarantees from the Qatari government that this would not happen, there have been ongoing allegations of rainbow-coloured goods being confiscated by stadium security personnel during the competition.

FIFA has been criticised for deciding to hold finals in a nation where same-sex partnerships are illegal and for threatening to impose sports punishment on nations that wanted to wear the rainbow-coloured OneLove armbands.

Infantino has been eager to highlight the positives and praised the accomplishments of some of the supposedly weaker nations as proof that football is beginning to catch up, as well as the fact that every continent was, for the first time, represented in the round of 16 in Qatar.

"There are no more small teams and no more big teams," Infantino added. "The level is very, very equal. For the first time as well, national teams from all continents going to the knock-out phase, for the first time in history. This shows that football is really becoming truly global."

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FIFA reported a total attendance of 2.45 million for the 48 group matches, but there have been complaints about the number of seats that were clearly empty during some games.

Infantino added: "When it comes to stadium attendances, the stadiums are sold-out, full practically at every match. The fan festivals, the different fan zones, are also very crowded with people celebrating and enjoying (themselves)."

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