To Crewe, in the north of England, for a very strange match. As FIFA was in the midst of a meltdown, questions were again asked about Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals. But just as the media was focused on the arrested of FIFA executives in Zurich, the Qatar national team were in England, on their first ever tour in the United Kingdom. They had two friendly matches planned: one against Northern Ireland in Crewe and a second against Scotland in Edinburgh.
The Qatar team had been fairly secretive and not given any interviews or indication that they wanted anyone to know about the game. The town of Crewe seemed to be equally as perplexed. But I wrote this story for the New York Times about the game, the team (which is made up largely of naturalized players from Africa) and the fans who turned up to protest against the treatment of migrant workers in the Persian Gulf emirate.
I also put this report together for the BBC World Service’s World Football show.