Qatar's World Cup flop: The Maroon finish with worst record for a host nation in FIFA history

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Qatar had been preparing for the 2022 World Cup, their World Cup, for more than 12 years since they won the hosting rights.

Not only had they invested in physical infrastructure, but they also spent heavily in creating new academies and pathways to create a team ready to compete on the world stage.

However, the 2019 Asian champions have fallen well short of the lofty expectations, losing all three games and scoring just one goal.

Given that hosts are traditionally known for overperforming in front of their home crowd, we look at where Qatar's performance ranks compared to other World Cup home nations.

MORE: Group A World Cup 2022 results

Qatar World Cup record

The 2022 World Cup was actually Qatar's first-ever World Cup, as they had never qualified before gaining automatic qualification as hosts. Their best qualifying performance had previously been reaching the fourth round of AFC section in 2014 and 2018.

It was the first time since 1934 that a host nation had never previously qualified for a World Cup. Since then, every single host nation had qualified at least once before hosting the tournament.

Qatar results at 2022 World Cup

As is tradition with all host countries in recent tournaments, Qatar gained automatic qualification to the World Cup. As a result, they were placed in Group A with the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador, which was seen by many pundits as a group that Qatar would be able to compete in.

There were ominous signs on opening night, however, as the hosts went down 2-0 to Ecuador in a listless performance where they created little. Their next game was not much better — they may have scored their first ever World Cup goal, but they fell to a 3-1 defeat against Senegal that eliminated them from knockout contention.

Whilst they were never expected to get much from their final match against powerhouse the Netherlands, their defensive and midfield performance was poor in a 2-0 loss.

Qatar ultimately finished bottom of their group, with zero points, seven goals conceded and just one goal scored. They also never took the lead in any game and were behind at halftime in all of their games.

— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 29, 2022

Is Qatar the worst performing World Cup host?

Qatar's poor performance saw them make history for all the wrong reasons, as they became the worst performing host nation at a World Cup.

In all previous editions of the World Cup, all but one host nation has always at least made it to the knockout rounds or to a second group phase. The one exception was South Africa in 2010, where despite a fighting draw with Mexico on opening night and defeating 2006 finalists France in their final game, they missed out on the Round of 16 on goal difference, thanks to a heavy 3-0 defeat to Uruguay.

Despite that, South Africa claimed a very respectable four points and were hampered by their goalkeeper being sent off in the heavy Uruguay defeat. Qatar have no such excuses, and have been preparing for this very tournament for 12 years.

As a country that was looking to increase its prestige on and off the pitch at this tournament, the on-pitch performances have been a disaster for the image of Qatari football.

Which World Cup host nations have performed best?

Spurred on by a home crowd, many host nations of the World Cup have enjoyed their best-ever performances, with six nations winning the World Cup on home soil.

This includes Uruguay and Italy in 1930 and 1934, in the first two World Cups. England were the next host nation to achieve the feat in 1966, and that remains their only triumph. West Germany won their second World Cup in 1974 when they defeated the Netherlands in Munich, and Argentina defeated the same opposition in 1978 in Buenos Aires.

The last host nation to win their own World Cup was France in 1998, when Zinedine Zidane scored twice at the Stade de France to lead Les Bleus to a 3-0 win over Brazil.

Other countries have had their best performances as hosts, Sweden were defeated in the final in 1958 by a Pele-inspired Brazil. South Korea shocked the world to reach the semifinals in 2002, as did Chile in 1962. Mexico and Switzerland reached the quarterfinals when they hosted the tournament, and Japan equalled their best performance in 2002 when they reached the Round of 16.

Host nation performances at World Cup

Edition Host nation Record Goal difference Stage reached
1930 Uruguay 4W, 0D, 0L +12 Winners
1934 Italy 4W, 1D, 0L +9 Winners
1938 France 1W 1L 0 Quarterfinals
1950 Brazil 4W, 1D, 1L +16 Runners-up
1954 Switzerland 2W, 0D, 2L 0 Quarterfinals
1958 Sweden 4W, 1D, 1L +5 Runners-up
1962 Chile 4W, 0D, 2L +2 Third place
1966 England 5W, 1D, 0L +8 Winners
1970 Mexico 2W, 1D, 1L +2 Quarterfinals
1974 West Germany 6W, 0D, 1L +9 Winners
1978 Argentina 5W, 1D, 1L +11 Winners
1982 Spain 1W, 2D, 2L -1 Second group stage
1986 Mexico 3W, 0D, 2L +4 Quarterfinals
1990 Italy 6W, 1D, 0L +8 Third place
1994 USA 1W, 1D, 2L -1 Round of 16
1998 France 6W, 1D, 0L +13 Winners
2002* Korea 3W, 2D, 2L +2 Fourth place
2002* Japan 2W, 1D, 1L +2 Round of 16
2006 Germany 5W, 1D, 1L +8 Third place
2010 South Africa 1W, 1D, 1L -2 Group stage
2014 Brazil 3W, 2D, 2L -3 Fourth place
2018 Russia 2W, 2D, 1L +4 Quarterfinals
2022 Qatar 0W, 0D, 3L -7 Group stage

*Denotes tournament was co-hosted

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