The remarkable revival of Ugandan football

“As the prospect of the FIFA ban on Kenyan football being lifted improves, it might be a good time to look at the example of neighboring Uganda, and how the football sector in that country managed to pull itself out of a deep crisis. A decade ago, the state of Ugandan football looked highly discouraging: after years of internal wrangles and conflicts between the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) and some of the country’s powerful clubs, as well as match manipulation, and financial accountability problems, many fans and sponsors turned their backs on the sector. The public image of both FUFA and club football was poor, and public trust and confidence were low. Meanwhile, the popularity of the English Premier League (EPL) among Ugandan football enthusiasts was on a steady rise. …”
Africa Is a Country

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Looking for this World Cup’s ‘Group of Death’? It doesn’t exist anymore. Here’s why…

“Whenever the draw for the World Cup is completed, the immediate task is figuring out which is the ‘group of death’. But the boring answer is that there generally isn’t one these days. Changes to the structure of the tournament mean four genuine contenders are less likely to be grouped together. This World Cup, however, is a slight exception. To explain why, here is a brief history of how the group of death gradually faded away. …”
The Athletic
W – Group of death

The Netherlands looked flat but Cody Gakpo was special


Cody Gakpo
“The last time Louis van Gaal took an unfancied Netherlands side to a World Cup, things turned out pretty well. … In this World Cup though, the options are a little more limited, and they might have to rely on a youngster who is at his first international tournament. Cody Gakpo’s stock was already high coming into Qatar 2022. He is a fixture of the transfer-gossip columns; and he’s been the leading scorer and creator in the Eredivisie this season, where he is the driving force behind PSV Eindhoven’s participation in what looks like a genuine three-horse title race. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Cody Gakpo and Klaassen stun Senegal with thrilling Netherlands late show

USA 1 Wales 1: Bale to the rescue, Weah’s vertical movement and Pulisic delivered

“It was Gareth Bale to the rescue for Wales in their opening game of the World Cup against the U.S. men’s national team as the forward who now plays in MLS for Los Angeles FC scored a late penalty to cancel out Tim Weah’s first-half goal. Christian Pulisic set Weah up brilliantly to put Gregg Berhalter’s side ahead at the Al Rayyan Stadium but Bale won a penalty with less than 10 minutes to go after a clumsy foul by USMNT centre-back Walker Zimmerman. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Gareth Bale’s penalty rescues point for Wales in World Cup opener with USA

Iran’s brave and powerful gesture is a small wonder from a World Cup of woe


While many protests were shut down by World Cup organizers, two people in attendance held signs protesting the Iranian government’s treatment of women.
“Well, that was unexpected. After the cold, cold theatre of Qatar 2022’s opening game, elite sport reimagined as a despot’s light-show, something remarkable happened on Monday afternoon in Doha. As night fell over the vast, swooping Khalifa International Stadium (all these World Cup structures are vast and swooping; unless specifically told otherwise, assume vast and swooping) England and Iran produced something that felt jarringly real, oddly warm, suspiciously authentic. Against all odds at this dislocated World Cup, a football match broke out. Albeit one shot through with its own layers of intrigue, and indeed pathos and horror. …”
Guardian
NY Times: Amid Disruptions, England’s Win Over Iran Was the Easy Part
****The Athletic – Cox: England dragged Iran apart thanks to ambition of full-backs Trippier and Shaw

Why the World Cup in Qatar Brings Fans Joy and Anxiety

“Kieran Jones, an avid soccer fan who lives in Cardiff, Wales, can tell you all the details about the last time his beloved Welsh national team made it to the World Cup. … As we spoke over the phone, Jones was preparing for a six-hour flight to Qatar, the tiny Arab country that on Sunday became the first nation in the Middle East to host the World Cup. Jones plans to stay in Qatar so long as his side remains in the 29-day tournament, which for Wales starts Monday, when it plays the United States. … With his team finally back in the thick of the quadrennial celebration of the world’s game, one might think Jones would be feeling pure, unfiltered joy. …”
NY Times