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Will This World Cup Go Down In The History Books?


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On Sunday, after years of anticipation filled with both hope and terror, the weirdest World Cup ever got underway.

The tournament is being held on a tiny peninsula in the Persian Gulf, where homosexuality is illegal, where thousands of workers are said to have died building football (soccer) stadiums which didn't exist until several years ago, and where it's as hard to find a diehard local football fan as it is to buy a beer.

Given the tumultuous lead-up to the event and the perennial geopolitical tensions which lurk in the shadows of every World Cup, fireworks were inevitable in the first days of the competition.

Examine some of the most bizarre and eye-popping occurrences which have ever taken place.

Gay Pride arm bands

Several European teams, including England, Germany, and the Netherlands, were willing to face financial sanctions in order to (mildly) protest Qatar's severe treatment of LGBTQ+ people by wearing 'OneLove' rainbow armbands throughout their games. Just before kick-off, though, FIFA issued a warning that any team captains who did so would be shown a yellow card and may be booted out of the competition.

Instead, teams will wear 'No Discrimination' armbands, which is a more generic proclamation granted by FIFA. These were supposed to be used in the Elite Eight but are instead being given out far earlier in the tournament.

The obvious hostility of Qatar against LGBTQ+ messaging was on full display on Monday. According to a tweet he published after the game, soccer journalist Grant Wahl was briefly detained by security for attempting to enter the stadium while wearing a shirt with a rainbow.

The Iranian team members have refused to sing the national anthem

The government of Qatar is not the only autocratic one in the Middle East. Nearby, more than two months after the start of widespread demonstrations, Iran's theocratic authority has reacted violently.

Football players for Iran's national team made their opinions known on Monday. Prior to their match against England, all of Iran's players stayed quiet during the national anthem.

England went on to win the football match against Iran: according to best odds for World Cup 2022 this was predictable.

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Qatarysts bail on Qatar's first World Cup game

There are many reasons why Qatar's selection to host the World Cup was so peculiar, but perhaps none more so than the country's complete lack of footballing history. The nation's team had never even reached the World Cup before this event. Aside from that, however, football doesn't have much of a background or tradition.

While the Qatar team has improved in recent years, the fan culture still has some work to do if Sunday's first match is any indication. It's not an insurmountable deficit to face Ecuador while down 2-0, but many Qatari fans left the stadium as soon as the score was announced.

Excited Ecuadorian fans yell, 'We want beer!'

Qatar is a strict Muslim nation. Therefore alcoholic drinks are hard to get (except in certain hotels) and pricey when they are found. Because of this, getting a drink has become even more of a hassle for spectators. Qatar made the unexpected decision a few days before the event to not allow alcohol to be sold outside of stadiums. As a result many fans are angry because they must pay exorbitant prices for alcohol which is hard to come by. On Sunday, Ecuador's supporters vented their anger with a simple yet powerful chant.

 




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