Qatar November 30, 2022: Of course, the results and quality of the football produced was never really the point behind their controversial staging of the tournament and, when you weigh up the tragic cost to life, quibbling about the uselessness of the host nation’s attack feels like very much an afterthought.
In the hours before kick-off here at the Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar’s organising chief had revealed between 400 and 500 migrants died while working on the development of the World Cup, even if others have reported the figure to be far higher.
Nothing, then, could put the shortcomings of Felix Sanchez’s side on the pitch into greater perspective.
After the scandals and corruption and discrimination and deaths that have taken place en route to bringing the tournament to a place with a disturbing human rights record and no football legacy, the hosts’ exiting with nul points after three group games was the most predictable result of an otherwise unpredictable tournament.
Qatar players, naturally, cannot be held responsible for what has gone on off the field and came into this doubtless knowing they were horribly out of their depth.
But if anything should serve as a reminder of the daftness of the decision to extend the World Cup to include 48 teams from 2026 it has been the sight of the host nation here stinking the place out.
It is hard to see how expansion of the tournament by a further 12 countries will not dilute the quality on show and the last thing any keen football observer needs in the US, Canada and Mexico four years from now is another Qatar or two.
There is no doubt Qatar have taken strides under Sanchez over the past five years and will hope to defend their Asian Cup title next year.
But not even the 12 years the country has had to prepare since its infamous winning bid was announced were enough to get the team up to a level to compete at this tournament.
This is only the second time in the 92-year history of the World Cup that the hosts have failed to emerge from the group or get past the first stage and even then a very clear distinction needs to be drawn with South Africa in 2010.
After being drawn in the so-called “group of death” with France, Uruguay and Mexico, the South Africans only missed out on a place in the round of 16 on goal difference, edged out by Mexico despite a memorable 2-1 victory over the 1998 world champions France and accruing four points.
By contrast, Qatar’s World Cup amounts to three games, no wins, one goal, six shots on target and eight corners and it is probably a good job they avoided Spain or France and were instead paired with a cautious Netherlands because the scoreline really could have got ugly against one of Europe’s more uncompromising sides.
Hayya Card holders were allowed free entry into this game if they showed up on the gate, which swelled what threatened to be a rather sparse crowd considerably.
But many supporters had left long before the final whistle, goals from Cody Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong securing a comfortable if uninspiring for the Dutch, and if football is catching on among the locals there is not too much evidence of it.
Sanchez, though, sought to put a brave face on things. “Talking about statistics, you can use them as you want,” the Qatar coach said when it was put to him that this was the worst-ever display from a host nation.
“The reality is we are a country with 6,000 football licences so this was a likely situation. We never thought to set target of getting to the round of 16 or the quarter-finals. We wanted to see what we could do.
“We’ve managed to play two good games against Senegal and the Netherlands. We know in our first game against Ecuador we weren't at our level and didn’t play as well as we wanted.
“But we are very realistic about what we can do. You can use statistics but we have to make our own assessment because that’s what really matters to us.”