An Update on the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar
By: Claire Boyle / Arab America Contributing Writer
On November 30, 2021, the FIFA Arab Cup soccer tournament kicked off in the country of Qatar. The ‘Arab Cup’ ran until December 18, 2021, and during the timeframe of the competition, many exciting matches took place. So, what is the purpose of the FIFA Arab Cup, how many teams are involved, and who became the FIFA Arab Cup champion?
The “FIFA Arab Cup is considered to be a prelude to next year’s FIFA World Cup which is also being held in Qatar.” The Arab Cup features two stages of the competition which are the qualifying and tournament rounds. It only features the men’s national teams. Finally, The teams that have qualified are all countries and territories that are members of the Arab League.
History Behind the FIFA Arab Cup:
The institution known to be the Arab Cup has been around for a very long time, but as for the tournament being organized by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), 2021 marks the inaugural year of competition. The first year of competition under its original founding (in regard to the tournament’s organization pre-FIFA days), the Arab Cup’s inaugural season was in “1963, held in Lebanon, and won by Tunisia.” The competition had been played in “1964, 1966, then halted for 20 years, resumed play again in 1985, and up to 2012.”
Finally, in 2021, FIFA took over the organization of the Arab Cup, and the rest is history!
How is the competition played in the FIFA Arab Cup?
A total of 16 teams qualify for group play in the FIFA Arab Cup, and then they are split into four groups: A, B, C, and D. The national teams come from two soccer leagues: the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
From November 30 to December 7, 2021, the Group play took up most of the competition. The teams in each group play each other, and then they move on to the Knockouts. The Knockouts began on December 10, and they finish with the Finals on December 18, 2021. The Knockouts would be equivalent to how “March Madness” works in American NCAA basketball in which the losing team is instantly knocked out of the competition. Finally, the Knockouts feature 8 teams from the 16 that originally qualified.
The Knockouts consist of the quarterfinals of 4 matches, the semifinals have 2 matches, and then there is the match for third place featuring the 3rd and 4th best teams, and then the finals bring the two best teams from the tournament together to vie for the FIFA Arab Cup trophy.
2021 FIFA Arab Cup:
The FIFA Arab Cup saw 16 teams qualify for group play. Group A features Qatar (host country), Oman, Iraq, and Bahrain. Group B consists of Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Syria, and Mauritania. Group C saw qualifiers from Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine. Finally, Group D’s teams include Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, and Sudan.
After some engaging Group play, the teams that moved onto the Knockouts round are Tunisia and Oman, Egypt and Jordan, Qatar and the UAE and Morocco, and Algeria. Tunisia, Egypt, and Qatar won their quarterfinal matches, and they have now advanced to the semifinal round; however, Morocco and Algeria faced a tiebreaker via penalty kicks since their quarterfinal ended in a 0-0 tie. Algeria won the tiebreaker on penalty kicks, thus eliminating Morocco. December 15, 2021, is when the semifinals begin and watch for December 18th to come along for the third place and finals match. Keep an eye on the upcoming matches!
On December 15, 2021, the semifinals began, and Tunisia faced Egypt and Algeria played Qatar. Tunisia beat Egypt and Algeria won against Qatar, so these results set up an all-North African final match pitting Tunisia versus Algeria. Egypt and Qatar played for third place. On December 18, 2021, the third-place match between Qatar and Egypt ended in a 0-0 tie in which Qatar won on penalty kicks, 5 to 4. Finally, Algeria was crowned as the Arab Cup champion with their dominating win over Tunisia, 2 to 0. Algeria can now claim bragging rights as the first FIFA-sponsored Arab Cup champion!
Why is the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 So Important?
The FIFA Arab Cup 2021 is meant to bring people, both fans and players together. In fact, FIFA mentions in their mission statement that the competition’s goal (pun intended) is to “have spectators and competitors experience the spirit of Qatar together and also to get everyone excited about the FIFA World Cup being hosted by Qatar in 2022.”
Furthermore, sports have the ability to break down barriers and serve as a sort of diplomacy in the world. The fans get to see their favorite players play, friendly competitions happen between fans, and perhaps, the most important thing that comes out of this tournament is that it increases representation for Arab players and teams throughout the entire world.
The FIFA Arab Cup and its predecessor the non-FIFA-organized Arab Cup serve as important examples of representation for and throughout the Arab World. The tournament brings world-class soccer players together for fans to enjoy, one team will eventually emerge as victors, and they will become the pride of their country’s fans when their players arrive home with the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 trophy! Algeria was crowned as the champion. If you want to go back and review the scores, and matches, then go to FIFA’s website..
Enjoy some soccer competition and cheer on your favorite Arab teams in the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021!
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