Delving Into the Inspirational Potential of the World Cup
Talking about Qatar, apart from the controversial side, it is also interesting to cover and report on the phenomena of this country from outside the field.
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It is time for that celebration to return again. The highly anticipated soccer World Cup, which takes place every four years, began earlier this week. After nearly three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the midst of other football competitions, such as the Champions League, the World Cup is an entertainment at the close of the year 2022. Compared with the previous World Cups, which were usually held in the middle of the year, the World Cup in Qatar, being held near the end of the year this time, perhaps gives the impression of diminished public interest.
Kompas daily has routinely covered the World Cup since the 1980s. This time, a journalist and a photographer cover it in Qatar directly. The intensity of the news continues to increase. Kompas.id, for example, has started writing reports related to the World Cup since mid-October 2022. Then Kompas daily also published a coverage series, “Ahead of the 2022 Qatar Football Festival”, from Nov. 7-15.
The World Cup does have very rich aspects, from the dynamics on the field to those around the field or off the field. The question is, what is different this time in Qatar?
Holding the World Cup in the host country of Qatar has long been suspected of being a controversial appointment. In 2015, a book was published written by two British Sunday Times journalists, Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvery, titled The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup. Meanwhile, Netflix recently released a documentary called FIFA Uncovered which also has the same theme. Apparently, FIFA is not very clean.
Talking about Qatar, apart from the controversial side, it is also interesting to cover and report on the phenomena of this country from outside the field. It is a country with a total population of 2.9 million (2021 data), only a tenth of whom are Qatari citizens, the rest being expatriates or other blue-collar workers.
Do not forget that Qatar is also the headquarters of the world's major media group, Al Jazeera.
It might be interesting to read other articles from outside the field that discuss what kind of Islamic community exists in Qatar, what are the historical sites there, what is the condition of public transportation there, how does Qatar look at night, how are the tourist attractions -- also, the arrangement of the city, Indonesian people in Qatar, the interest in the World Cup in the Middle East. Do not forget that Qatar is also the headquarters of the world's major media group, Al Jazeera.
Another differentiator, of course, stems from the side of the game. The sport of football is a branch that has complete statistical records starting from ball possession, age of players, number of participants in teams representing countries, participation in the World Cup, number of goals, assists and others. Due to the abundance of statistical records, sometimes the real beauty of the game is unheeded by all these statistical records.
For this World Cup, Kompas is working with Opta, a company that provides statistical data related to football. The statistics, in a more scientific way, can make a difference and provide additional match information that other media may not provide.
When the match whistle has been blown, we will see a lot of drama on the green field from the start of this week. The prediction of victory is significant. Who will win the World Cup this year? Who will be the best player? What surprises will there be?
If a smart machine predicts Brazil will win the World Cup, how likely is this to happen? Can a match that includes many aspects be predicted by a machine? The tug-of-war between humans and machines will be interesting to watch.
As to Romo (Father) Sindhunata, who has never been absent from writing his notes on a number of important football events, of course, readers are still waiting for his writings. Those who do not really like soccer might be more interested if they read his reviews.
The World Cup, which will soon be held, will probably produce less-productive employees compared to the ordinary days. Those who watch while munching on snacks may gain weight. However, what is also important: there are many events on the agenda that can be obscured by the presence of the World Cup. Major ongoing cases, such as the trial against Ferdy Sambo, the economic crisis and the climate crisis, should not escape public attention.
Of the various plans and differentiating efforts that will be presented, it is interesting to see and reflect upon the question Ashadi Siregar raised at the Kompas Ombudsman Forum, on 18 November 2022: Is this World Cup coverage just for entertainment, or is it able to create certain inspiration for us in Indonesia? Appreciation of human values, for example -- can this be successfully extracted from the World Cup, this time? This is a challenging question to answer, while we watch the ball on the green field being kicked around.
Ignatius Haryanto, An ombudsman at Kompas
(This article was translated by Hyginus Hardoyo).