‘Today I feel gay, I feel disabled’: Fifa president Gianni Infantino at World Cup
Qatar and Ecuador meet in Group A of the World Cup in Qatar. The opening match of the tournament is normally a moment of celebration as the festival of football begins but with Qatar 2022 dogged by controversy surrounding a litany of issues, including the host country’s human rights record and attitude to LGBTQ+ rights, this World Cup feels different.
After 12 years of preparation, all eyes will be on Qatar’s debut match at a World Cup as the host country get the tournament underway. Although they may lack star names, Qatar are the Asian Cup champions and head into the World Cup with an organised and well-drilled team.
Ecuador, meanwhile, grabbed a shock spot for Qatar in the competitive South American qualifiers. La Tri are a young, dynamic side, as displayed by the Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo. They will want to put early pressure on both Senegal and Netherlands ahead of their opening match in Group A tomorrow.
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World Cup 2022 fixtures: From the opening game to the final
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins on 20 November as 32 teams aim to reach the final and become world champions on 18 December.
The tournament will be the first to be held in the Arab world and only the second to take place in Asia, after Japan and South Korea joint-hosted the event in 2002. This edition will be the last to feature just 32 teams, with the tournament being expanded from 2026 onwards in order to feature 48 nations.
Reigning champions France will be among the favourites, though no team has successfully defended the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, alongside fellow European sides England, Spain, and Belgium. Brazil and Argentina will also likely feature in the knockout stages, while Senegal could represent Africa’s biggest hopes of winning for the first time.
England will meet play-off winners Wales in Group B with USA and Iran. Spain and Germany have been drawn in a tough-looking Group E with Japan and Costa Rica, while Portugal meet Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea in a well-balanced Group H.
Hosts Qatar start their tournament against Ecuador, before taking on Senegal and Netherlands – the latter duo were set to be the first match of the 2022 World Cup before organisers moved Qatar’s match to be a day earlier. Because of excessive summer temperatures in the Gulf state, the Qatar World Cup will be the first to be staged in winter rather than summer.
Check out the full World Cup fixtures and schedule below:
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:48
Indian fugitive Zakir Naik arrives in Qatar to give talks at Fifa World Cup
Controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik, who is wanted in India over allegations of terror-related activities and inciting hate speeches, reportedly arrived in Qatar for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
The Indian Muslim preacher came to Qatar to give many religious lectures, Faisal Alhajri, a presenter at the Qatari state-owned sports channel Alkass said on Twitter.
“Preacher Sheikh Zakir Naik is present in Qatar during the World Cup and will give many religious lectures throughout the tournament,” Mr Alhajri said on Saturday.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:41
Irish journalist hassled by Qatar police while filming for World Cup
And in the latest incident of that nature, Irish journalist Tony O’Donoghue told RTE how he was stopped by police while filming a piece to camera on Thursday (17 November).
During RTE’s coverage of the Republic of Ireland’s friendly fixture with Norway – a game Ireland lost 2-1 – O’Donoghue explained the moment to the broadcaster.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:36
‘It’ll be a big equaliser’: Why Qatar 2022 could simply be the set-piece World Cup
The wall. The train. The celebrations after another delivery was met by a thundering forehead or a close-range rebound tap-in.
England’s set-piece success at the 2018 World Cup was initially the mark of a well-prepared side, yet soon after was used as a barometer of progress: were the Three Lions really better than some of their opponents, or just better-prepared?
For many coaches those phrases are simply asking the exact same question, given the whole point of match training is to be in a state of readiness – physically, mentally, tactically, technically – to beat the upcoming opponent. That is after all, at the most base level, the idea in football: to win.
And yet, even at a domestic and club level, those who rely or thrive off dead ball scenarios still remain at times damned by faint praise, as though the need to score off a corner might somehow outweigh the benefit of actually doing so.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:30
France star, Karim Benzema, ruled out of World Cup with thigh problem
Benzema’s injury is another blow to a France side who are defending the title they won in Russia four years ago but are already missing key midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
The 34-year-old Real Madrid striker claimed the Ballon d’Or earlier this year and will be the first reigning winner of the prestigious award to miss the World Cup since Kevin Keegan in 1978.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:24
Beer ban to be enforced
The sale of alcohol to fans at World Cup stadiums in Qatar has been banned with just two days to go until the tournament kicks off.
Fans at matches will no longer be able to buy Budweiser, which would have been the only alcoholic beverage available to fans due to its sponsorship of FIFA.
Now no one attending games will be able to consume alcohol within the stadium perimeter, with the exception of corporate spectators.
Supporters will still be able to consume alcohol in designated fan zones.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:19
Why the Qatar World Cup is a betrayal of everything Jules Rimet stood for
A century has passed since the World Cup’s founding father, Jules Rimet, assumed Fifa’s presidency and began setting the wheels in motion for the first tournament in 1930. Even a visionary like Rimet would have struggled to imagine the immense success and global pull that the tournament would command a hundred years later, but it is not hard to guess what he would have thought about the 22nd World Cup in Qatar.
Rimet came from humble beginnings as the son of a grocer in a tiny village in eastern France, and he climbed the class ladder by winning a scholarship to law school. His beliefs were simple: that football should be global and inclusive, fair and respectful. In a small Parisian cafe, he co-founded a sports club called Red Star based on those principles of cooperation and equality. Red Star were rare in that they did not discriminate based on social status and included working-class players, and their football team still cherishes those roots closely today.
As a devout Catholic, Rimet was inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, a letter issued in the aftermath of the industrial revolution, which set out the principles of basic workers’ rights. It was in part a doctrine against exploitation and one that resonates as strongly with 1920s France as it does the 2022 World Cup; what is exploitation if not the transformation of workers’ sweat and blood into someone else’s wealth or power? The World Cup’s origins started from a man who fought against class structure, and a century later the tournament kicks off in one of the most structured, racially divided class systems in the world, where many thousands of south Asian labourers are at the bottom of a brutally unequal society run by a few unfathomably rich sheikhs.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:14
Sportswashing and spectacle as Qatar’s World Cup of conflicts kicks off
As Lionel Messi and the Argentine squad arrived in Qatar this week, driving through a £220bn infrastructure project built on “modern slavery”, there was unmistakable excitement. The players can’t quite believe the World Cup is suddenly here again. “Another chance” at victory and immortality. It was much the same in the England camp, where the 14 players who have never been to the competition were almost just saying to each other: “It’s the World Cup!”
And one like no other, for reasons far beyond the fact that it is starting in November.
The disrupted calendar has at once made this World Cup one that has suddenly come out of nowhere and yet also weighed over the game for more than a decade. It is a mere week’s preparation that goes back 12 years.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:08
Moises Caicedo: Ecuador’s Brighton star letting his football do the talking
Ecuador midfielder Moises Caicedo will have just turned 21 when he lines up against Qatar in the World Cup opener, but he is already an experienced lynchpin of the national side and is turning heads in the best league in the world.
Part of Ecuador’s successful generation change, Caicedo became a commanding midfield presence during their arduous, two-year South American qualifying campaign.
Able to drive forward and create chances for others, Caicedo also netted two goals himself for “La Tri” in those qualifiers and has become a box-to-box player, helping out the defence when necessary due to his impressive fitness and work rate.
“He’s getting better and better,” enthused his Argentine manager Gustavo Alfaro.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 12:04
Akram Afif: The assist king at the heart of host country’s chances in Qatar
Qatar’s main playmaker Akram Afif is perhaps the World Cup host country’s greatest asset and worry wrapped up in one.
The 25-year-old striker, crowned Asia’s player of the year in 2019 and more famous for setting up goals than scoring them, has become essential to the Gulf Arab state’s soccer success.
“Always, when he is there, he finds solutions for the team. Without him it would be a big problem,” said former Qatari forward Mohamed Mubarak al-Mohannadi.
During the Asia Cup tournament in 2019, which Qatar won, Afif’s assists supplied most of the nine record-setting goals Almoaz Ali scored.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:58