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The FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022 has started but there is a lot of controversy. There are reasons to skip this year’s tournament.
For example, stadiums built for the occasion in host country Qatar were built on the backs of workers from Asia and Africa.
The conditions these migrants faced Workers have sparked controversy – from the intense heat they endured building infrastructure for the World Cup in Qatar to how many of them may have died. World Cup organizers vehemently deny expert estimates of thousands of deaths.
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Former Obama administration official Tommy Vietor and soccer pundit Roger Bennett list the troubles of this World Cup in an article for CNN Opinion. Read her opinion.
There is also the issue of LGBTQ rights. FIFA threatened sanctions with team captains who planned to wear armbands to encourage inclusion and counteract discrimination, one of several last-minute changes made to the tournament by the International Football Association and Qatar. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, although the country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy told CNN the tournament would be inclusive. Continue reading.
If you take Qatar at its word when it comes to inclusivity, imagine you’d spent the coin on playing cards, travel and accommodation for a World Cup in the desert, only to find out about it days before it started that stadiums wouldn’t sell beer after all. This is clearly offside.
There is a new documentary, FIFA Uncovered, just in time for the World Cup, which does not cast world football’s governing body in an overall flattering light given the organisation’s recent history of wrongdoing. The allegations against Fifa are not new – the US government made them years ago – but they are worth reconsidering.
Pay close attention sign of Protest. Iranian players appeared to show solidarity with those protesting against the regime Back at home. The players were silent as the Iranian national anthem was played ahead of Monday’s kick-off in their game against England at the Khalifa International Stadium.
With limited access for journalists in Qatar, some teams can taking on the role of protesting against the tournament, such as with Denmark’s shirts designed to respect stadium workers.
Qatar has close football ties with France and notably invests in Paris Saint-Germain football club.
French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists at a recent international summit that questions about Qatar should have been asked years ago, during the bid process. He said the event itself offers a path to openness and has value.
“The vocation of these major events is to allow athletes from all countries, sometimes from countries at war, to let sport exist and sometimes through sport to find ways to debate when people can no longer speak,” he said .
Qatar’s ambassador to the US, Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, argues that the tournament will help clear up misconceptions about his country. who he says have worked with a United Nations agency to improve working conditions.
“Qatar is not opposed to a review,” he wrote in a CNN Opinion article in response to Bennett and Vietor’s comment. “Indeed we did engage – but too often platforms have been used to present one-sided, factually inaccurate arguments that go beyond what some other countries awarded major events have experienced, even though each country faces its own unique set of challenges has to cope with.” Read the whole piece.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino also defended the tournament in an explosive hour-long tirade in front of journalists on Saturday. He hit back Western criticism of human rights issues.
“What we Europeans have done for the last 3,000 years, we should apologize for the next 3,000 years before we start teaching moral lessons,” he said.
Assuming you’re watching, here are the informal rules I’ve developed with the help of other fans in strings of text for my own enjoyment of the World Cup.
Incidentally, these rules often contradict each other, requiring you to weigh the importance of one versus the other. That’s up to you. Or create your own rules.
This means USA are above England when the two countries play in the group stage. Support conquered Wales over England, even though Wales isn’t exactly a colony and England will be the big favorite.
Root for Brazil via Portugal or Argentina via Spain. There’s something satisfying about the idea of the New World conquering the Old World, or an African team defeating France or Belgium, at least for this American.
Asterisk to the colony rule. When I mentioned this rule to a friend, he pointed out that although the US emerged from former British colonies, it occupied territories in the Atlantic and Pacific, so applying this rule is not always easy.
Another complication of the colony rule is the large number of immigrants in many teams. Much of the France team that won in 2018, for example, was born outside of France and most of the players had African roots – including young star Kylian Mbappe. Here’s an interesting report from the Migration Policy Institute on the rise of immigrant players in World Cup teams.
According to Freedom House, the independent watchdog funded by the US government, there is a sliding scale of freedom in the world.
Qatar, for example, scores a meager 25 on Freedom House’s 0-100 scale, which combines access to political rights and civil liberties. But it’s not the lowest-scoring country taking part in the World Cup: Saudi Arabia scores a 7 and Iran a 14.
Also, at 83, the US isn’t the freest. Canada gets a 98 and Uruguay and Denmark both get a 97.
Here is an alphabetical list of World Cup countries included in their World Cup group stage duties alongside their Freedom House results.
Ecuador (71), Netherlands (97), Qatar (25), Senegal (68)
England (93 for the UK overall), Iran (14), United States (83), Wales (93 for the UNITED KINGDOM)
Argentina (84), Mexico (60), Poland (81), Saudi Arabia (7)
Australia (95), Denmark (97), France (89), Tunisia (64)
Costa Rica (91), Germany (94), Japan (96), Spain (90)
Belgium (96), Canada (98), Croatia (85), Morocco (37)
Brazil (73), Cameroon (15), Serbia (62), Switzerland (96)
Ghana (80), South Korea (83), Portugal (95), Uruguay (97)
It’s fun to root for the underdog, and disparities in access to facilities and paychecks vary greatly from country to country. What a European or North American country can offer their squad is very different than what an African or Central American team can offer.
US gross domestic product is over $69,000 per capita, according to the World Bank, and Qatar’s oil-rich figure is over $61,000. Senegal’s GDP per capita, the tournament’s lowest, is less than $1,700. Ecuador, Iran, Tunisia, Ghana and Morocco all have per capita GDPs below $6,000.
Note on the combination of rules #1 and #2. Teams that score relatively high in the freedom score despite relatively low population GDP are Ecuador, Ghana and, to a lesser extent on the GDP front, Croatia, a 2018 World Cup finalist.
32 countries take part in the World Cup. Only eight countries have ever won the World Cup. It will repeat, and all but one are in the tournament this year.
You can tell by the number of stars the players wear on their shirts. Brazil has won five times and Germany has triumphed four times. Italy have also won four but did not enter the tournament this year. Argentina, France and Uruguay have won two, Spain and England have won one each.
That still leaves a wide open field of 25 teams battling for their country’s first World Cup title.
Exciting surprises, great goals and human drama await as you watch, all replayed and enhanced with the help of a video assistant Referee or VAR.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano ronaldo This World Cup is probably the last opportunity to see two champions who both failed to win the tournament. Now in the extreme twilight of their careers, neither is an all-time favorite to lift the trophy for their country (Argentina and Portugal, respectively) this year.
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Curses. Every World Cup offers England another, probably doomed, opportunity to break the curse of failure that has followed them since winning the 1966 tournament. Her agony makes for compelling television.
Brazil can exert its otherworldly dominance on European teams. Or not, depending on which Brazil shows up. Anything less than victory will be a crushing loss for them.
Finally, the United States can grapple with why it is so mediocre at the men’s international level in a sport that so many American children love and in which its women’s national team has dominated for so long.