The World Cup (Behind the Scenes)

Everything BUT the matches

Welcome to Qatar 2022. It has been quite a four years (eight for some) (USA), and as our world returns to normalcy, there is nothing better than a World Cup to bring the entire planet together. As someone who has experienced a World Cup in person, my qualifications for certain discussions are top-tier. From FIFA controversies to the criticism of Qatar. From the retirement of some of the greatest players to the best World Cup songs of all time. Here are some of my takes on La Copa Mundial.

First, one of the darker undertones of the World Cup needs to be discussed. Uncovered in 2015, but starting years before, a bribery and corruption scandal involved two dozen members of the International Federation of Association Football. In May 2015, the US Department of Justice released a 47-count and 164-page criminal indictment that charged FIFA executives with receiving $150 million in bribes over the last two decades. These bribes came from marketing groups in exchange for television contracts. The seven executives involved were arrested in Switzerland, and more pleaded guilty. I won’t go into great detail – it’s pretty boring and difficult to understand – but the misguided perception of FIFA  around the world has upset fans, and the widespread corruption is a bad look on International Soccer.

Another controversy, more catered to this specific World Cup, is its location: Qatar. Many have criticized this location choice due to multiple human rights violations. Most notably, their treatment of migrant workers and their position on LGBTQ issues have angered many. Moreso, the lack of a robust “football culture” in Qatar has led many to believe that its location is proof of bribery in FIFA. Even Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s former president, said that giving Qatar the World Cup was a “mistake” and a “bad choice.” Seats are visibly empty in games, and multiple artists (including Shakira, aka the face of the World Cup), have refused to perform in the opening ceremony. Bruno Fernandes of Portugal and Christian Eriksen of Denmark have also spoken out against the host country. 

Messi saves Argentina’s chances in the World Cup with a goal against Mexico

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar Jr. Three symbols of international soccer face their last World Cup in Qatar as some of the best players of all time. Though combined, they have enough silverware to fill a museum, Messi and Ronaldo have never won a World Cup with their respective countries, Argentina and Portugal. Many are labeling it their last chance, putting immense pressure on the two. What other way to end an incredible career with a World Cup trophy? 

“It’s called soccer””

 

As many know, the US men’s national team has shocked many with their World Cup success. From not even qualifying in 2018 to advancing to the round of 16 (as of yesterday, 11/29, in their victory against Iran), they have made all of us incredibly proud. This team is the youngest the entire tournament has seen, led by captain Tyler Adams (23) and the face of the team, nicknamed “Captain America” and the “Lebron James of Soccer” Christian Pulisic (24). The youngest on the team, Yunus Musah, started the tournament as a teenager and turned 20 years old yesterday (the same day they beat Iran to advance). Other notable players include Tim Weah, with a goal against Wales in their first match, Weston Mckennie who dominates the #8 position (and also has red, white, and blue-dyed hair), and Matt Turner, the starting goalkeeper who is a classic American keeper and a shot-stopper to the core. Matt Turner actually only started his soccer career at 14 years old and was #1 on Sports Center’s Not Top 10 during his time at Fairfield University. Now, he is the first-string goalkeeper in the most prestigious tournament in the World. A shocking seventeen out of twenty-six of the roster plays abroad in Europe. 

Update: As of last Saturday, 12/3, the United States has been eliminated by the Netherlands, a favorite and “the best team that has never won the World Cup.” Though hard fought, the US’s youth showed, with a lack of disciplined defending and the inability to finish our chances in the final third. Though the play was somewhat even, the Netherlands was the more technical team and that won in the end. But as always, we love our boys.

 

Women’s rights protests in Iran have been occurring, and it is apparent in the World Cup. The Iranian national team did not sing their national anthem before their last game. Before the United States v Iran game, a World Cup channel also showed the Iranian flag but without the symbol of the Islamic Republic. As a result, Iran wanted the United States banned from the World Cup immediately. Human rights continue to be an evident issue in Iran.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4rX14W4BgZhyMwyb0eGgiz?si=-Yfch2itRjCl1ns_7p0WyQ

 

The World Cup is known for its songs; everyone knows the classic Waka Waka by Shakira from South Africa in 2010. My personal favorite is La La La, also by Shakira, from Brazil in 2014. Honestly, this year’s songs are bottom-tier compared to those in the past. So, I have created a World Cup playlist with the best songs from each year

 

 

We wish our boys in Qatar the best as they continue to inspire us all. Leave your predictions and hot takes for the winner in the comments!

Make your own bracket here: https://www.fifa.com/fifaplus/en/articles/play-the-fifa-world-cup-bracket-challenge