Are Qatar any good at football?

October 7, 2021


“The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was not, to say the least, a popular one. The objections can generally be split into two categories. One is the moral argument, the idea that the World Cup should not be played in a country with an abominable human rights record and in which an estimated 6,500 migrant workers have died in the last decade, a number of them while constructing stadia for the tournament. The second was that this was a country with no football heritage, that the hosts of the World Cup would be a terrible team who had no sporting place being there. This will, after all, be the first World Cup to be hosted by a country that had never qualified for one before since Italy staged it in 1934. The first argument still stands. The second, not so much. …”
The Athletic


One of the darkest moments in Brazilian football – and the divide that still runs deep

October 7, 2021


“It took Charles Fabian a good few minutes to get the full picture. The young forward had just finished dinner at Brazil’s team hotel in the north-eastern city of Salvador when the president of local side Bahia stormed in. ‘You can pack your bags because you are not staying here,’ yelled Paulo Maracaja as he grabbed Charles by the arm. It was June 1989. A home Copa America was about to begin and Charles, then 21 and a Bahia player, had not long since broken into the national set-up. He didn’t know what to do. Unable to find anybody from the Brazilian FA, he ended up following the order to leave. As it turned out, Maracaja had taken matters into his own hands after being told that Charles was among three to be cut from the final 20-man squad. He was furious his player had been dropped. The omission would have dramatic consequences. What happened next lives on in the national consciousness as one of the darkest moments in Brazilian sporting history. It felt like just another betrayal to a people who had long felt marginalised – and who continue to feel so today. …”
BBC