As we approach the first ever winter World Cup tournament, an array of controversial headlines and decisions have shrouded what should be an exhilarating build-up.
The on-field action is certain to be some of the best we will have seen at a World Cup, but the tournament has been tainted and overshadowed by the off-field on-goings and antics.
As soon as Qatar was revealed as host for this World Cup back in 2010, the event brought about negative headlines and question marks.
Particularly, accusations of corruption to rig the bidding in their favour, questionable human rights' records, horrible news in relation to the construction of the stadiums and their treatment of the migrant workers, Qatar has not been shy of a controversial headline.
It does seem now that the Qatari national team has been thrusted into the limelight, as FIFA have received an integrity alert about the nature of their warm-up matches for the World Cup.
According to the Daily Mail, Five of Qatar's seven warm-up games have been played behind closed doors, where an ‘unusually high’ number of penalties were awarded during these matches.
It is said that the FIFA integrity panel is working to find relevant data from the games, with many worried at the huge lack of information available to access.
However, to blindly claim that these decisions were made deliberately would be far too premature at this stage and the high volume of penalties given could be based off normal factors.
Of course, if the Qatar side are given an unusually high number of penalties at the final tournament, the FIFA higher-ups should be feeling more compelled to investigate it.
The World Cup kicks off tomorrow as Qatar and Ecuador face off in the opener, which kicks off at 4:00 pm GMT. Brazil are the overwhelming favourites according to the bookies, with Argentina and France following closely behind.
Each of these teams have a great level of depth and talent in their squads, but there is also hope that England can give the nation a similar run to the ones we witnessed in 2018 and 2021. Who will take home the Holy Grail of football though? Only time will tell.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy