High stakes for Qatar as Fifa World Cup starts

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Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Preview – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar – November 19, 2022 General view outside the Al Bayt stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 REUTERS/John Sibley

DOHA—The World Cup kicks off in Qatar on Sunday in a high-stakes event for the tiny nation which has faced a barrage of criticism and staked its reputation on delivering a smooth tournament, the first held in the Middle East and most expensive in history.

In a show of Arab solidarity, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the presidents of Egypt and Algeria will be among political leaders at the opening ceremony to be held in a tent-shaped stadium at 1440 GMT, before the first match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador. The U.N. secretary general is also in Doha.

The tournament marks a culmination of Qatar’s soft power push on the global stage and a show of strength after…

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