After 12 years of questions, criticisms and conjecture, the Fifa World Cup in Qatar will finally get under way Today Sunday.
The build-up to the first tournament to be held in a Muslim country in the Middle East has been overshadowed by a number of controversies.
But Fifa has asked all 32 competing nations to “focus on the football” and hosts Qatar will kick off the tournament against Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium (16:00 GMT).
The home nations that have qualified are in the same group and in action the following day, with England up against Iran (13:00), before Wales play USA (19:00).
The Gulf country defeated bids from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to host the tournament, but there were allegations of widespread corruption in the process, which Qatar has always denied.
In February 2021, 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka died in Qatar since it won its World Cup bid.
However, the Qatar government said the total was misleading because not all the deaths recorded were of people working on World Cup-related projects. The government said its accident records showed there were 37 deaths among laborers at World Cup stadium construction sites between 2014 and 2020, only three of which were “work-related”.
However, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said that was an underestimate.
There have been fears over how LGBT fans can expect to be treated given the country’s strict adherence to Sharia Law, with homosexuality illegal in Qatar.
Organizations engaging with Fifa over the tournament have said “progress has been slow” and “issues of concern” remain.