While Italy's frustration or failure to qualify has caused embarrassment, it has also caused heartbreak to the entire nation.
Six Confederations, 211 Countries, 32 Spots. One out of the 32 spots in the FIFA World Cup is an unrivalled source of joy, happiness, ecstasy, and elation. Perhaps more importantly, the feeling of representing one’s country when the entire world stops to watch is arguably the best feeling, and no one, except the host nation, is guaranteed a spot. Even before the curtain raiser of the tournament in Qatar, the footballing fraternity saw a number of big names slip out of the quadrennial event.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest showcase of talent and ability in football, with many footballers skyrocketing their careers on the back of strong performances on the grandest of stages among the best talent across the globe.
The World Cup is the pinnacle of international football. While the nation’s failure or failure to qualify has caused embarrassment, it has also caused heartbreak.
Italy currently occupies the sixth position in the FIFA World Rankings, and the Azzurri’s have won the FIFA World Cup a whopping four times (1934,1938,1982,2006). They are also one of only two countries to win consecutive FIFA World Cups (1934,1938). However, a 92nd-minute defeat in their play-off semi-final against North Macedonia at the Stadio Renzo Barbera resulted in Italy failing to book a flight to Qatar in 2022. Given the results and the Blues winning the Euros, Italy missing out on automatic qualification to Qatar was highly unexpected, and Italy have now missed the last two World Cups.
Sweden are currently ranked 25th in the FIFA World Cup rankings, and their best campaign was in 1958 when they hosted the mega event but were defeated by the Mighty Brazilians in a goal fest in the finale (5-2). Sweden advanced to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2018 and have competed in a dozen (12) World Cups. They lost three of their six qualifying games for Qatar 2022, finishing second to Spain in their Group and setting up a meeting with Poland. Sweden’s hopes of reaching Qatar were dashed by Robert Lewandowski’s penalty and Piotr Zielinski’s 72nd-minute goal in a 2-0 defeat at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzow, Poland.
Russia are ranked 35th in the FIFA World Rankings, and their best World Cup performance came in 1966 when they finished fourth and had an impressive run in the last edition of the World Cupp where they progressed to the Quarterfinals. The footballing world were shocked, and Russian football fans were absolutely devastated, as the country was politically forced out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. FIFA officially confirmed the team’s exclusion from all competitions following Russia’s incursion of Ukraine earlier this year. Russia attempted to appeal the ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but went against after they withdrew the appeal.