Soccer notebook: Cruising into the World Cup

World Cup

Not enough hotel rooms

Why is the World Cup being held in Qatar? That question continues to be asked as the start of soccer’s most important competition (Nov. 20) draws closer and closer.

The latest head-scratcher is the Qatari World Cup organizers’ decision Monday to bring in a third cruise ship to house soccer fans because there aren’t enough hotel rooms in the country.

The 1,075-cabin MSC Opera will be docked in Doha Port from Nov. 19 through Dec. 19, according to an announcement by Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises. MSC previously signed a deal in 2019 with the Qatari government to provide two cruise ships with about 4,000 cabins.

Prices to stay in the cruise ships will go down as the World Cup moves along because less teams will be involved. Here are some examples for the MSC Opera. For the group stage, it will cost a minimum $470 per person per night with a minimum two-night stay. For the round of 16 and quarterfinals, the cheapest rooms will be $320 per person per night. During finals week, the cheapest rooms will be $220 per person per night.

In addition to bringing in cruise ships, Qatari World Cup organizers have created camping and cabin sites in Qatar and encouraged fans to stay in nearby countries and travel to Qatar for games to ease the housing crunch for an anticipated 1.2 million visitors, according to an Associated Press story.

Slur and a suspension

Major League Soccer has had another ugly incident of a player saying something inappropriate. This time it’s 23-year-old Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa, who was suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount by MLS for saying a homophobic slur during Atlanta’s game vs. New England on Oct. 1. In addition to the suspension and fine, Sosa also must attend LGBTQ+Allyship training through Athlete Ally.

Sosa served the first game of his suspension on Oct. 9 when Atlanta United faced New York City FC in its final regular-season game. He won’t play in Atlanta United’s first two regular-season games in 2023.

So who is Santiago Sosa? A 5-foot-9, 172-pound midfielder from Argentina who has scored one goal this season.

Home pitch advantage

The NFL’s Super Bowl normally is played on a neutral field. That’s not the case in Major League Soccer, where the home field for the league’s championship game is determined by regular-season point totals. That’s one reason why regular-season MLS games are so important.

This year’s MLS Cup will be played Nov. 5. LAFC, winner of the Supporters’ Shield for having the most points in the regular season, will own hosting priority for the MLS Cup as long as it is in the playoffs. Real Salt Lake, the No. 14 seed in the playoffs, is the only team in the postseason that can’t host the MLS Cup.

Playoff teams Philadelphia Union, CF Montreal, Austin FC, New York City FC, New York Red Bulls, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Nashville FC, FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United FC, Inter Miami FC, and Orlando City SC trailed LAFC in the regular-season point standings.

The MLS Cup finalist with the highest regular-season point total will host the game. If the two finalists have the same number of regular-season points, the team with the most wins will host. If there’s still a tie, the team with the better regular-season goal difference will be the host.

Got all that?

 


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