In the first match of group C on November 22, Argentina with Lionel Messi lost three goals and lost to Saudi Arabia (1: 2), becoming, together with the referee of the match, the co-author of the main sensation of the start of the 2022 World Cup. For three game days, this is so far the loudest, in fact, football event of the championship – until now, the noise of unsportsmanlike scandals of the World Cup in Qatar drowned out the whistles of the judges and the ringing of the results. FIFA ban on headbands with symbols banned in the country, football players on their knees before games because of Black Lives Matter (BLM), a ban on the sale of beer in the stands, masquerading fans, refusal of Iranian players to sing the anthem of their country, a ban on the landing of a German plane and 54 added minutes in the first three matches. The world championship in Qatar has already become the most scandalous in the history of the tournament.
“I was bullied at school”
Even before the start of the World Cup, as expected, FIFA President Gianni Infantino spoke at a special press conference. He tried to eclipse with his speech the background of corruption rumors about obtaining the right to host the tournament by Qatar, and at the same time the accusations of the organizers of discrimination and the use of slave labor.
“Today I have very strong feelings. Today I feel like a Qatari. Today I feel like an Arab. Today I feel like an African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel like a migrant worker. I’m not Qatari, I’m not African, I’m not gay, I’m not disabled and I’m not really a migrant worker, but I know what it’s like to be discriminated against and bullied as a foreigner in a foreign country. I was bullied at school because I had red hair and freckles. I was bullied for it.”– he said.
With this frank confession, Infantino failed to shift the focus of attention from the screaming problems. Rather the opposite.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino
Photo: Global Look Press/Lan Hongguang
The main question of the first days of the World Cup was not at all the lineups and chances of the teams in the first round. Much more than the media around the world was interested in whether the captains of a number of national teams would come out with One Love armbands: this gesture is aimed at protesting against discrimination in Qatar and does not seem to be related to laws against LGBT people, operating in the country directly. It was emphasized that this is an action to support inclusiveness.
Harry Kane said before the game with Iran that he would come out with an armband for the match, despite FIFA threats. The player could have been punished with a yellow card already in the first second of the meeting. “Yes, we are disappointed. I said we want to put on a bandage. But today I was deprived of the opportunity to decide. I came to the stadium with this bandage, and they told me to put on another one, ”he said.
Following Virgil van Dijk and Gareth Bale also came out without bandages. The action was to be supported by the national teams of Switzerland, France, Germany and Denmark. But FIFA managed to use the threat of sanctions to force the teams to abandon the idea of protests.
Publicly, the Germans were the most upset because of this. The German Football Association even intends to file a lawsuit against FIFA in the CAS due to the One Love ban, and the manager of the German national team, Oliver Bierhoff, said that this is no longer about football, but about censorship. In part, the Germans can be understood. They are traveled to Qatar with adventures. On Sunday, November 21, the government of Qatar refused to accept a special aircraft of the German national team, on the fuselage of which another LGBT slogan was applied. After the refusal, the plane of the German air carrier flew to Oman, from where the German athletes again returned to Qatar on a plane of local airlines.
Photo: Global Look Press/IMAGO/Matthias Koch
But the British still held another action before the game with Iran – they knelt in support of the BLM movement. And the Iranians themselves refused to perform the national anthem before the first round match. Even before the start of the match with England, Iranian striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh said that the players would collectively not sing the anthem in solidarity with women in Iran (before the World Cup, the country’s Ministry of Sports demanded that several players not be included in the application due to support for the protests).
Without water and food
In general, Qatar, as the hosts, has a lot of complaints about the organization. Separate decisions in the classical football world are simply bewildering. So, in Doha, Indian fans were seen in uniform and with flags of different national teams. There have been suggestions in the European media that the organizers for the beautiful picture simply paid migrants from South Asia to impersonate fans..
Even at the opening matches, an overestimated attendance was also noticed, which exceeds the official capacity of the stadiums. For example, the opening match Qatar – Ecuador hosted the stadium “El-Bayt” with a maximum occupancy of 60 thousand spectators, but the number of 67,372 fans is on the protocol. Inflated figures were also in other matches of the tournament: England – Iran, the Netherlands – Senegal, Wales – the USA. According to the FIFA protocols, the stadiums that could hold 40,000 each received 4,000-5,000 more spectators in each of the arenas. At the same time, it was clear from the TV picture that the stadiums were not filled to capacity, and at the match between England and Iran, hundreds of empty seats could be seen at all.
In the first game days, Qatar again gave reason to talk about the disregard for workers at the tournament. According to the Daily Mail, more than 200 cashiers were left without food and water for six hours before the World Cup opening ceremony.
Photo: Global Look Press/Tom Weller
And the fans were left without the usual beer. FIFA two days before the start of the tournament announced a ban on the sale of alcoholic beer in stadiums in Qatar. Alcohol will be available at this World Cup only in fan zones, as well as in licensed venues.
And they do not feel sorry for the time
“So far, at the start of the World Cup, we are seeing more politics than, in fact, football itself,” said State Duma deputy, ex-world boxing champion Dmitry Pirog in an interview with Izvestia. — Talk about alcohol in the stands, about support and discrimination against various minorities and communities, about the infringement of human rights, about boycotts of fans, unfortunately, take up a lot of space. If earlier on the eve of matches they discussed pre-match layouts and lineups, gave forecasts, now the information agenda is mainly reduced to social and political topics. And this is no coincidence: world sport, unfortunately, has become an arena for demonstrating many non-sporting things. And such actionism, I must say, rolls over. And questions on this score should be asked, including FIFA.
Scandalous decisions at the start of the World Cup were also on the field. So, in the match between England and Iran, a record was set for added time by the referee. The referee added 24 minutes to two halves: 14 to the first half, 10 to the second. This is a world championship record.
In the first half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand was injured and was treated for a long time, after which the goalkeeper was replaced. The game was suspended for 8–9 minutes. In addition, the judges at the seminars before the World Championships were instructed to make up time for any puffs and pauses. From here and in other matches, they add at least 5-6 minutes to the halves.
— We have not seen this before, but now there is a separate person at the matches who monitors non-game time, ”ex-FIFA referee Alexei Nikolaev explained to Izvestia. – Time will be added to the goal celebration in the same way as for all stops. In principle, this is probably correct. Fans want to watch football.
Photo: Global Look Press/IMAGO/David Klein
And now Saudi Arabia has finally created the biggest football scandal of the 2022 World Cup, jeopardizing the beautiful end of Lionel Messi’s great career. By the way, he scored the first goal from the penalty spot, then the Argentines built three more goals, but they were all canceled due to offside, which was indicated by VAR. And in the second half, the Saudi team scored twice in five minutes, as if turning a blind eye to the blue and white flags of Argentina.