Monday, December 19, 2022

the 2022 World Cup

The World Cup is one of the very most popular global events.  The competition is well managed to provide maximum excitement.  Unfortunately it is controlled by some with money interests.

My notes are a bit random as for me it was hard to sort such a wide assortment of noteworthy things.

 Qatar came out on top of the bidding process.  Normally the World Cup is run in the summer months and leagues around the world cater to that.  The temperature would be unbearable in the summer months and so they offered a schedule for November and December.   They assured everyone would be welcome.  They even made accommodation for alcohol consumption.  Check this expose of corruption inside

It is a mammoth task for construction and they promised a timely completion.  They accomplished it at the expense of several hundred dead foreign workers.  Locally I was surprised that here in Ontario they are allowing alcohol in some bars as early as 7:00 in the mornings of games.  No doubt this will help increase attendance and boost profits for those who were able to get the rules bent.  Irony is that the weekend before the games start it was declared that after all there would be no alcohol served at the Qatar games despite a contract.  It has been pointed out that many stadiums have forbidden alcohol in total or for certain times of the game.

 Now as it turned out, although they did not check for gays, they forbade open displays of affection for either heterosexuals or homosexuals.  The German starting team posed with their mouths covered to protest the ban on One Love arm bands.  The Netherlands invited some migrant workers to a practice plus promised to auction off uniforms at end with money going to migrant workers.  The Netherlands invited some migrant workers to a practice plus promised to auction off uniforms at end with money going to migrant workers.

One limited effect was with Iran that was suffering from riots back home regarding restrictions against women.  Many of the players sympathized and early indicated their support for the world to see.  Iranians refuse to sing their national anthem.  Put their arms on each other rather that their tradition with hands on heart.  Declined to celebrate their goals as had been a habit, that had  been curtailed during league play after riots started.  They entered the stadium with Persian flags.  Some of their fans booed the Iranian national anthem.  T shirts with the protest slogan "Women, Life, Freedom"  Other T Shirts had names of female protesters on them.  It must  be added that many were dressed conservatively.  Many players, guests and journalists  were reprimanded or stopped from entering the stadiums.  However we are told that threats were made to their families and they desisted. Similarly some of the fans also supported the protests and eventually Iranian agents were brought in to curb disturbances.  FIFA and traditional Iranians have tried to lock down Iranian protests.   

One cause that was allowed was for the Palestinians.  A lot of visitors had not seen their issues expressed.  They displayed banners inside stadium.  

Feminism was boosted as more female referees than in previous games  For the third game of the group section, Germany vs. Costa Rico there were four females forming the referee team--Stephanie Frapart of France will the head referee and Neuza Back of Brazil and Karn Diaz of Mexico will call the offsides.  Kathryn Nesbitt will deal with video calls.  From Rwanda and Japan are two more females included.

Not paid a lot of attention to soccer in the off years pleased to see advances in coverage making it easier for non fans to be converted.  Tv. coverage had a few embellishments new to me.  Injury time had a separate spot.  Injury time was presented as a minimum of letting us know the referee had some discretion.  Offsides were visually presented and easily understood.

Stadium architecture really beautiful.  

The Japanese set a trend.  They started as a group to clean up stadium after a game, including ones they were not part of. This trend was picked up by Tunisia and then Saudi Arabia.

Fans put on displays, but I think Senegal deserves top honors.  They had a well coordinated dance, costume and drums routine that made me wish they had gone further in the knock out rounds. Many national visitors took to wearing Arabic head gear.

Argentina allowed Saudi Arabia a colossal upset in their first game.  The knockout formula does up the intensity, but the World Cup format allows for ties and even defeats to not be eliminated.  This upset illustrates that good teams can have off games and go on to learn.  All teams are guaranteed at least three games which gives them a chance to play against international competition.  More visitors have a reason to stay longer.

First game with host Qatar, outclassed by Ecuador--several yellow cards trying to contain Ecuador players.  Good cheering section, but all men.  Women a little more evident with Ecuador.

Upsets to create new excitement:  Saudi Arabia over Argentina, Japan over Germany, and Spain, Morocco over Belgium and Portugal.  More goals than ever.

A prominent Danish player Christian Eriksen  had had a heart attack 18 months previous and played in all the group games.

Embolo playing for the Swiss team became the first player to score against his birth country, Cameroon

Canada was highly promoted nationally, but I feel expectations were not realistic.  They played fairly well could conceivably have won against Belgium.  In reality they were in a group where the other teams all were more highly ranked.  Their group also included Morocco and Croatia who ended playing for third spot.  Perhaps we need to take consolation in just making the 32 finalists.  Alphonso Davies did well.  The head coach, John Heard felt that Canada needed to get more Canadians in the elite leagues.

Morocco provided a significant breakthrough beating Belgium and Portugal and finishing fourth.  They had boisterous fans, not all African, Arab or Muslim.  Learned that the Moroccan goalie, Yassine Bounou, who won the game in the shootouts was born in Montreal.  Japan and Korea showed some competitiveness.  Still it seems Europe and South America dominate.

Shootouts to decide winners in the knockout round are criticized by some commentators.  After 90 minutes of vigorous competition is already a wearying task and not just for the players, but also the referees and even the fans.  Skills are what are expected and the shootouts provide some of that.  Many sports have concluded fans do not enjoy entertainment that is too long.  Sudden death as in hockey is one option that might be considered, but that might shift emphasis even more to defense.

Milan Borjan, goalie from Hamilton--family had fled from Knin, Croatia to Belgrade Serbia during wars of independence--came to Canada in 2000 when Milan was 8 years old, ending up in Hamilton, but was recognized as talented goalie--  was offered a goalie  position with Belgrade Red Star and rose to be their captain.  He could have chosen to play with Serbia or Croatia for World Cup, but felt gratitude to Canada and chose them--prior to their game against Croatia, coach John Herdman in an effort to boost team morale was quote as saying "fuck Croatia" a quote that Croatians used to motivate themselves. Unfortunately some of the fans decided to taunt Boran at the game with posters that pointed out his family had fled Knin on John Deere tractors.  Milan was quoted in our local Spectator as wishing Croatia success in their next games as he had friends on the team--FIFA who is supposed to be against ethnicism and racism claim, but in 2016 FIFA dropped a special task force that dealt with racism. 

Speaking of goalies.  During the knock out game between France and England, Harry Duke was confronted by his Tottenham team-mate for a penalty kick.  They both knew each other very well.  Harry actually kicked the ball slightly over the net.

Heartbreaks common in third group games.  Tunisia from a fourth position needed to beat #1 France and have Denmark and Australia tie.  Australia led 1-0 near the end as Denmark applied a lot of pressure to tie the game, while Tunisia had a goal.  As Denmark failed to tie, that eliminated Tunisia, but they were still winning when France apparently scored in injury time, but after a small delay the referee was called to see a replay and disallowed the goal letting Tunisia at least claim victory over France.

Human nature was revealed a bit by the reaction of Ronaldo to be taken out of a game and then put as a substitute for the quarter final game.  He displayed disappointment and a little anger.  Recognized as one of the top players in the world he likely wanted to add to his legacy by scoring more goals in the World Cup.  In the first instance, the game didn't affect the next step and Ronald as a critical asset would help his team more by resting.  In the second instance I am not sure how his coach evaluated Switzerland, but it turned out they were not a difficult opponent.  Although flukes could decide a game, the coach did have Ronald available as a substitute should the game turn the wrong way and in fact he did let him after the game was under control.  As it happened his substitute scored three goals and proved he deserves time.   Someday Ronaldo will retire and memories of this behavior will not help unless he learns from it.

The death of Grant Wahl an American journalist convert to football during a game from an aneurism.  Mourned by LeBron James who knew him from his high school basketball career.  Grant had been stopped at one game for wearing a One Love T shirt.

The game for 3rd place which I missed because I misread the schedule could use a boost to make it more meaningful.  Some have pointed out that the two teams are coming tired off a big disappointment and probably just want to go home.  The organizers no doubt want to maximize their profits with a captive audience.  Extra money for the winning players is at best a partial solution.  An idea might be to let the winner an automatic entry for the next World Cup.

An important deal overlooked for many years.  It is not "Lye on Nel", but rather "Lee o Nel" Messi.

The final was very exciting.  France were down two goals at half, but tied it in regulation.  Then two goals in extra time.  During the shoot out the Argentine goalie stopped one and benefited with one wide shot.  President Emmanuel Macron cheering on France and after consoling Mbappe helped give out medallions. The Golden Boot went to Kylian Mbappe having scored three goals to pull ahead of Messi who only score two goals in the finals game,  The Golden Ball trophy symbolizing the best overall player went to Lionel Messi,with Mbappe second and the last Cup winner, Croatian Luka Modric third.  The Golden Glove award for the top goalie when to Argentine Emilian Martinez.  To cap off the Argentine awards, Enzo Fernandez won the Youth Award.  An irony is that Messi and Mbappe will be team mates at Paris St. Germain.

At the final game the FIFA team trophy was unveiled by a favorite actress Deepika Padukone.

Several countries, including Denmark have discussed leaving FIFA.   My wish is that it be cleaned up, but the lure of money is overwhelming.

I would like to end by paraphrasing a quote I heard from Ismaila Alfa which he attributed to a Uruguayan poet, (I think it must have been Eduardo Galeano).  "When football is well played it is like a dance with a ball."

Two previous blogs on World Cup might illustrate some evolution of appreciation. and

Some thoughts on Women's World Cup;

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