Russian teams playing friendly matches in Turkey despite UEFA and FIFA bans

“Beneath the winter sun in the grounds of the five-star Sueno Hotel in Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast, where golf buggies help guests navigate the lengthy distances from their hotel rooms to plush facilities, a modest crowd is gathered between two football pitches. Austria Vienna are taking on Partizan Belgrade of Serbia on one pitch. Both clubs are big hitters in the top flights of their respective countries, and both are members of UEFA, European football’s organising body. Two teams that are trying to keep fit and focused as their leagues take a winter break. …”
The Athletic

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CONIFA: Football’s Hidden Movement


“In Qatar, the dust, in both a literal and figurative sense, is just settling after a barnstorming three weeks of football produced a raft of historic moments; the drama, controversy, and intrigue which characterised the World Cup’s build-up somehow managing to permeate events on the field. A total of 206 nations may have vied for a place in the 2022 instalment of FIFA’s showpiece competition, but only 32 descended on the Middle East last November. But the glitz, glamour, and glory of the World Cup Finals didn’t evade just those 174 remaining member associations—many others, excluded from football’s international governance structures, were also consigned to watching the planet’s biggest sporting festival unfold from home. …”
Football Paradise
amazon: CONIFA: Football for the Forgotten

Witness Says Inside Information Helped Fox Win World Cup Rights



“When the news broke a dozen years ago that Fox had been awarded the U.S. broadcast rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, many in television, and in soccer, were surprised. For decades, the sport’s showcase championship was the exclusive domain of ESPN, which had been instrumental in driving interest in the world’s most popular game in the world’s richest sports market. But according to a government witness testifying this week in federal court in Brooklyn, Fox didn’t acquire those tournaments on merit alone. …”
NY Times

FIFA Trial Could Implicate Fox, a Major Player in Soccer


“The World Cup may be over, but the FIFA corruption scandal never seems to end. Nearly eight years after a series of predawn raids exposed corruption at the highest levels of international soccer, and more than five years after the conclusion of the first trial in the Justice Department’s sprawling probe of bribery in the sport, a second trial is set to begin on Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn. Once more, the defendants stand accused of being involved in complex schemes to pay millions of dollars in exchange for the rights to matches. …”
NY Times

‘Craziness’ at Crawley – NFTs, YouTubers and five managers in 10 months


‘There’s a sigh at the other end of the phone. That seems to happen quite a lot when you ask people about Crawley Town. ‘It’s a mess,’ said more than one person. They’re referring to the club’s situation since it was taken over by WAGMI United — a group of American NFT investors — in April 2022, with the new owners promising to take Crawley up the divisions using innovation. … Regardless, the basic facts aren’t great. Crawley are 21st in League Two and now look more likely to leave the division from the bottom rather than the top. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Do shirt sales pay for transfers?

We’ve been there every transfer season, a big transfer is justified because ‘they’ll pay the club back in shirt sales alone’. But will a player really be able to recoup their transfer fee from flogging shirts? Abhishek Raj explains how shirt sales work, how much a club earns on average from selling kit, and whether it ever justifies a transfer. Illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua. …”
YouTube

Crypto chaos: how Crawley crumbled under owners’ reckless leadership

“The word ‘shambles’ comes up a lot when you ask people about Crawley Town. They sit 20th in League Two, are looking for their third permanent manager of the season after Matthew Etherington’s exit following 32 days in charge and have cast aside three of their senior players. When Wagmi United, a cryptocurrency sports company, bought the club in April its co-founder, Preston Johnson, said: ‘We think the club can do better and our fans deserve better.’ They finished in 12th last season, so clearly Wagmi United’s plans are not working out. …”
Guardian

Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup Confusion, exasperation and dating apps – my month as a gay reporter at the Qatar World Cup


“The morning after Germany were dramatically knocked out of the World Cup in the group stage, I took a walk around the backstreets of Doha. For the first time in my life, I was confronted, in person, by a sign telling me I was not welcome. Across Qatar’s capital, we often saw flags, usually for the 32 nations competing at the World Cup. This time, alongside Qatari national flags and a banner saying, ‘Welcome’, I saw a piece of paper: a rainbow flag with a no-entry symbol over the top of it. Beneath it, in red letters, the sign said: ‘Not allowed in Qatar’. In Britain, I had read about signs like this, whether they were against black people, Irish people or immigrants in years gone by. I am not making a direct comparison; I am not trapped in a hostile environment. For me, this was merely a moment in time. For others, it can be a lifetime. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Today I Have Very Strong Feelings – Jonathan Wilson

“A month ago, Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, made his now infamous ‘I am Spartacus’ speech at the World Cup’s opening press conference. ‘Today I have very strong feelings, today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker,’ he said, before adding, ‘Of course, I am not Qatari, I am not an Arab, I am not African, I am not gay, I am not disabled. But I feel like it, because I know what it means to be discriminated, to be bullied.’ Two days before Sunday’s final, he returned to the microphone to announce, a bit prematurely, that this had been the ‘best World Cup ever.’ It pains me to say it, n terms of pure football, and especially given the galactically great final—a game that will remain, as everyone pretty much agrees, unsurpassed in the annals of football history—he was right on the money. …”
The Paris Review

The Athletic and Tifo’s documentary: A Journey To A Postmodern World Cup


“Most people who attended the World Cup in Qatar flew there. That would have been the simple way to do it. We — Laurie Whitwell and Nick Miller, plus videographer and football culture expert Martino Simcik — decided not to do that. We went via the scenic route. We travelled from London to Doha via 17 countries, taking at least eight different forms of transport — from planes to e-scooters — taking 17 days to travel just over 5,600 miles. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Qatar 2022: Shifting sands where the real and almost-real collide


1 – Qatar fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar.
1 Fake Qatar fans. It is one of the strangest minor stories of the strangest of World Cups. Shortly before the opening game, Qatar versus Ecuador, a group of men in uniform Qatari team-coloured T-shirts emerged en masse into a vacant area behind the goal and started making noise, doing choreographed dances and leaping about with apparently genuine excitement, something they kept up through the game irrespective of what was happening on the pitch. … 4 Fake Venice shopping centre. The motorised gondolas at the Villaggio Mall, a Qatari classic. This is a place that loves a bit of urban mimesis. Doha and its surrounds also have a fake Place Vendôme, a fake Champs-Élysées, even a fake Hackney in the guise of Stadium 974, with its billionaire-hipster aesthetic, the pretence of being built out of glossily reclaimed shipping containers. …”
Guardian
4 – Fake Venice shopping centre.

Qatar World Cup set to end without adequate migrant worker remedy fund


“The World Cup in Qatar is set to end without migrant workers receiving access to an adequate remedy fund. This tournament has been controversial for several reasons, including Qatar’s criminalisation of homosexuality and male guardianship system, as well as alleged abuses of migrant workers. These workers make up around 90 per cent of Qatar’s population, and have embarked on an unprecedented construction programme in the country since 2010. There have been thousands of unexplained migrant worker deaths during that time. They have also faced risks such as non-payment of wages, illegal recruitment, and heat-related safety issues. …”
The Athletic

How FIFA Silenced a World Cup Armband Campaign


Belgium’s foreign minister, Hadja Lahbib, wore a One Love armband into a V.I.P. box, where she sat near the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino.
“The opening match of the World Cup was only hours away when the leaders of a group of European soccer federations arrived for a meeting at the luxury Fairmont Hotel. The five-star property, converted into the tournament headquarters for FIFA leadership, was an unlikely setting for a fight. But with the matches about to begin, it would have to do. By then the federations and representatives of FIFA had been meeting on and off for months about a plan by the group of national teams to wear multicolored armbands with the message ‘One Love’ during their matches at the tournament in Qatar. …”
NY Times

You’re Not Imagining Things. There’s Way More Stoppage Time At This World Cup.


“… Wait a minute — just how much of this World Cup has happened during stoppage time? From the opening match, it was clear that this competition’s official time was going to be unusually kept; Ecuador’s 2-0 cakewalk against their Qatari hosts went on 10 minutes and 18 seconds longer than expected. FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina soon confirmed that throughout this World Cup, officials would be adding much more time than usual, at least in part to punish teams that deploy time-wasting tactics. …”
Five Thirty Eight

Special report: Qatar, the World Cup and the war on truth


“For a brief few moments it looked like the World Cup was being rigged in real time, amplifying an explosive conspiracy theory seen by millions around the world. In the days running up to the tournament opener between hosts Qatar and Ecuador on November 20, a viral tweet suggested the South Americans had been bribed to deliver a 1-0 defeat. The claim mutated from the Twitter feed of someone named Amjad Taha to other social media sites and news outlets around the world. …”
The Athletic (Video)
Guardian – As Qatar’s World Cup ends it is time for truth: Fifa chose death and suffering
Guardian – Qatar 2022: this World Cup has taken place in a crime scene
World Corrupt (Audio)

The World Cup trophy: Stolen by robbers, found by a dog, weighs the same as a cat

Pickles poses for photographers near the spot where he found the stolen trophy
“What do Franz Beckenbauer, Daniel Passarella, Dino Zoff, Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus, Dunga, Didier Deschamps, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Iker Casillas, Philipp Lahm and Hugo Lloris have in common? Granted, as quiz questions go, it’s not the most taxing. The captains to have lifted the World Cup from 1974 are a distinct and illustrious group — one of a small number of people that are actually permitted to touch FIFA’s most iconic prize. …”
The Athletic (Video)

‘All thanks to Qatar!’ The one way the host nation has won at the World Cup

“When Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010, the choice shocked and surprised soccer fans around the world. Concerns about lack of infrastructure, the country’s conservatism, summer heat waves and allegations that the country had bribed its way to the bid dominated the international media. FIFA, the global governing body for soccer, responded to the heat issue by moving the tournament to the winter, and the Qatari government threw up stadiums, hotels, roads and even new cities in record time — only to raise new concerns about its treatment of migrant workers. …”
GRID

No World Cup tickets on sale despite empty seats


“No World Cup tickets are available for purchase on FIFA’s official ticket portal despite swathes of empty seats being clearly visible at many matches during the tournament, The Athletic can reveal. While many tickets were sold long in advance of the first match, FIFA now is in its “last-minute sales phase” where additional tickets can be bought at short notice. All knockout matches are listed as sold out. There is a link to an official resale platform but few appeared to be available. …”
The Athletic

His Estate Has 3 Swimming Pools and a Stable. He Says He’s Not Rich.


Muhammad Almisned, a wealthy Qatari businessman, with a falcon at his estate in the middle of the desert in Al Khor, Qatar.
“Every afternoon, Muhammad Al Misned leaves his office in Doha, the Qatari capital, jumps into his white land cruiser and drives to his second home in the desert. There, behind a castle-like facade, is his sanctuary — with three swimming pools, two soccer fields, a bowling alley, a stable, a volleyball court and one carefully manicured hedge maze, among other luxuries. The daily visit to his estate, in the northern town of Al Khor, has offered him much-needed respite since the men’s soccer World Cup turned Qatar into an exhausting, round-the-clock carnival, he told me. …”
NY Times

How FIFA corruputed the World Cup


“On December 2, 2010, FIFA announced the 2022 World Cup would take place in a surprising country, Qatar. At that same meeting, they also announced that the 2018 World Cup would take place in Russia. These selections set off a new chapter in FIFA’s history, one where the public would have a greater sense of how bribery and corruption play a huge role in who gets to host this international sporting event. The last 14 World Cup locations were decided by a group of 24 powerful men within FIFA called the executive committee. Their votes meant a lot to bidding nations and allegations on bidders bribing members of the committee lingered for decades. These allegations reached a new level when criminal investigations were launched nearly five years after that FIFA announcement. The fallout of these investigations nearly broke FIFA and tainted the World Cup. …”
Vox (Video)

Explained: How a 48-team World Cup could work

“When FIFA president Gianni Infantino is not empathising with minority groups, lecturing on postcolonial theory and sitting next to heads of state, he comes up with ideas to improve/ruin football (delete as applicable). Biennial World Cups, a global Nations League, 32-team Club World Cups… the ideas come spitting out of his head like tracer bullets. …”
The Athletic

Migrant worker died in accident at World Cup base during group stage


“A migrant worker died during the World Cup while performing repairs at the resort used as a FIFA training base for the Saudi Arabia squad during the group stage of the competition. The five-star Sealine Beach resort, which has been open for more than 25 years, is home to 58 luxurious villas, as well as a full-size training field, a beach bar, a mini-golf course and several restaurants. For this weekend, a room for one at the resort would cost 1,180 Qatari Riyals (£265; $324) per night. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Qatar World Cup whistleblower was tortured, claims family

“A Qatari whistleblower who was jailed after raising concerns about the mistreatment of migrant workers at World Cup stadium sites was tortured on the eve of the tournament, his family has claimed. The human rights organisation FairSquare also released a letter from the family of Abdullah Ibhais, a former media manager in Qatar’s Supreme Committee, who accused Fifa of ‘callous indifference’ for ignoring his case. …”
Guardian

How Jared Kushner Lost at the World Cup in Qatar


“It is not clear from Ivanka Trump’s Instagram record of her family’s three-day visit to the World Cup in Qatar if she or her husband, Jared Kushner, heard any of the chants and songs in support of the Palestinians voiced by Arab fans at multiple venues during the first round of matches. But the outpouring of support — which was also expressed on huge ‘Free Palestine’ banners displayed in the stands, and by fans who intruded on Israeli television interviews to wave Palestinian flags and berate Israeli reporters — made it clear how badly Kushner had miscalculated, as his father-in-law Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, when he convinced a handful of Arab autocrats to sign economic cooperation deals with Israel that did not respect the rights of Palestinians. …”
The Intercept_ (Video)

Was Aspire project a vehicle to deliver votes to Qatar’s World Cup bid?

“Look who we are, we are the dreamers. We make it happen. There is something seductively inane about the soundtrack to Qatar 2022, present in the slogans plastered across its surfaces, the sonic assault of the World Cup PA, the playlist of official anthems, centralised messages, approved corporate machine-feelings. …”
Guardian

Coping with more injury time at World Cup: ‘Radical’ change has major implications


“The conversation begins with a speculative scenario in which a team is clinging on in the blazing heat of the Qatari afternoon while the big screens inside the arena indicate the game is edging towards its final whistle. Then up goes the fourth official’s board and the side with everything to lose suddenly find themselves condemned to another 10 minutes of emotional turmoil, not to mention physical agony. … We’re over halfway through Qatar 2022 and, in terms of average on-field minutes, this tournament is on course to become the longest World Cup on record. FIFA’s admirable determination to extend the length of time the ball is in play meant 22 of the first 32 group games stretched beyond the 100-minute mark. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Enjoying Soccer in Its Dark Age

“… Franklin Foer: Really, it’s the fact that the stadiums in which the games are going to be played were built in the worst circumstances for labor. Human-rights organizations have estimated that thousands of people perished in order to make this World Cup happen. [The Qatari government disputes those numbers.] I think a lot of times with sports or things that we love, we’re vaguely aware that, for example, people working at a resort will get treated badly and paid very little, or that a piece of meat was raised unethically. But here, there’s this incredibly direct sense everyone should have that these games are being played in arenas that were responsible for a huge number of deaths. It’s a hard thing to get past. …”
The Atlantic (Nov. 17, 2022)

No wins, few fans… Qatar prove it’s time for every side to earn World Cup place

“Yesterday marked the midway point of the Qatar World Cup — 32 matches played, 32 remaining. Today marked the point when Qatar’s participation ended. They were already mathematically eliminated, but their 2-0 loss to the Netherlands at the Al Bayt Stadium — essentially in the middle of nowhere, 50km north of Doha — completed a hat-trick of defeats. … There has been an intriguing flow of supporters throughout the games. Qatar’s matches have started with many empty seats, which generally fill up throughout the first half. There were a couple of sections of the stands tonight that were initially entirely empty, before suddenly becoming full 20 minutes in. …”

There is a World Cup

“Need we say more? Thirty-two teams have converged in the tiny Middle-Eastern nation of Qatar to fight for their national pride, and so far, it is shaping up to be the spectacle that keeps football lovers faithful. But there is no sport without politics, and Qatar’s hosting of the tournament has unleashed a sea of criticism over its dodgy labor practices and poor human rights track record. Should we side with FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, in his accusation that the West is being hypocritical? Or are reactionary elites simply weaponizing woke-ish arguments to deflect warranted scrutiny? …”
Africa Is a Country (Audio)

Infantino is the nowhere man in this bonfire of greed, vanity and despotic power

Today I feel … largely invisible. Today I feel like a boggle-eyed despot-groupie. Today I feel like essence of human avarice distilled through a series of filters, poured into a dark suit and presented on stage looking like a discredited small-town mayor with a secret. Today I feel like I really should, for the sake of world football, start to get a grip on this chaotic Fifa World Cup. It is hard to know whether Gianni Infantino feels any of these things right now. It is nine days since Infantino delivered his opening press conference speech, his Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock moment, his I Have a Really Horrendous And Deluded Dream. …”
Guardian

A U.S.-Iran Soccer Showdown Intensifies With Protests as a Backdrop


“…When players representing Iran and the United States take the field at the World Cup in Qatar on Tuesday, millions of fans will be dissecting every move — not just passes, fouls and headers, but also whether the Iranian players sing the national anthem, celebrate any goals or speak about the protests shaking their country. The game has become yet another front line in the conflict between the two longtime geopolitical foes as Iran battles protests at home in one of the most significant challenges the Islamic Republic has faced since the 1979 revolution that brought it to power. And this time, it is all playing out under the glaring lights of the most watched event in the world. …”
***NY Times: A U.S.-Iran Soccer Showdown Intensifies With Protests as a Backdrop
***Guardian: Bloody history brings flashpoint to key Iran v USA World Cup clash
The Athletic: Detained at the World Cup for wearing a ‘Women Life Freedom’ T-shirt
The Athletic: Iran World Cup 2022 ‘spies’
CNN: Iran calls for US to be kicked out of 2022 World Cup after it changes Iran flag on social media to show support for protesters

What Is Offside in Soccer?

“Novice fans don’t understand it. Longtime fans claim to understand it, but then openly disagree about it. Referees and their assistants are trained to spot it, but often have to turn to replays to make sure they’ve got it right. The actor Ryan Reynolds — who, remember, owns a soccer team — admits he doesn’t understand it but has sought cover by saying, ‘in fairness, nobody understands the offside rule.’ But now you will understand it. …”
NY Times

What else Qatar has built with its absurd wealth besides the 2022 World Cup

“Qatar is a player. In the Middle East and across the world, the petrostate of fewer than 3 million people plays an outsized role in geopolitics, media, and art. Its cultural diplomacy has established the country’s influence — and now it’s doing the same with sport. The country’s absurd wealth is on display this month: It spent about $300 billion on stadiums and groundwork to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which kicked off Sunday. That money totaled more than all previous World Cups and Olympics combined. …”
Vox

How Japan’s five substitutes and switch to a back five stunned Germany


“It’s been an eventful couple of days in the World Cup, to the extent that this isn’t even the most notable example so far of an Asian side turning a 1-0 half-time deficit against a strong favourite into a famous 2-1 victory. But in a purely tactical sense, Japan’s win over Germany was the most fascinating contest of the World Cup so far, a classic game of two halves. Germany ran riot in the opening 45 minutes, prompting Japan to dramatically change their shape at the interval before launching their astonishing comeback. …”
The Athletic
Guardian: Germany’s protest will reverberate down the years and generations
NY Times: Germany Protests FIFA Decision That Blocked Rainbow Armbands
The Athletic: Germany chose to be an ally and take on FIFA. It was a powerful, meaningful gesture

The Last Authoritarian World Cup


Adrien Rabiot of France scores their team’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between France and Australia at Al Janoub Stadium on November 22, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar.
“In 1986, the International Olympic Committee voted to split the Winter and Summer Olympics so they would alternate every two years instead of occurring together every four years. The new tradition began in 1994 with the Lillehammer Winter Olympics, site of the infamous showdown between figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. The IOC initiated the split schedule in part to bring greater attention to the winter events, and while this move did bring them out from the shadow of the more popular summer games, it also locked the Winter Olympics into permanent competition with an even bigger quadrennial athletic spectacle: the World Cup. …”
The Bulwark

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

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

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

Morgan Freeman and Ciao but no Pitbull: The most uncomfortable World Cup opening ceremony ever


“Who first came up with the concept of an opening ceremony to a sports tournament? It’s so normalised now that we just accept it, that the first thing we’ll see of a World Cup, Olympics or whatever is a souped-up performance-art event with dancers and a famous-ish pop star singing a confected anthem. It would now feel weird not to have one, like we’re missing out on something important somehow. Could we really enjoy a month of football without it being introduced to us by a rhythmic gymnastic demonstration and Jennifer Lopez? It’s too late now, we’ve been brainwashed. Plus, they’re essentially harmless, aren’t they? …”
The Athletic

The Qatar World Cup Explained

The Qatar World Cup has provoked strong and sometimes conflicting, reactions in many people. In this series of videos, written by James Montague and illustrated by Alice Devine, Tifo explains why the World Cup in the Gulf State is so controversial. The contest in Qatar is beset by controversy and human rights concerns, most notably the reported deaths of migrant workers. A staggering 90% of the population of Qatar are migrant workers. Why is this number so high? In order for Qatar to host this tournament they’ve had to build stadia, build infrastructure, build a team, and build a reputation.
YouTube

Why Qatar is a controversial host for the World Cup

“The selection of Qatar to host this year’s FIFA World Cup brought cheers to the streets of Doha in a celebration of the first edition of the tournament to be held in the Arab world. But the choice, made in 2010, also sparked instant criticism – over the logistics of holding a sporting event in a country where summertime temperatures regularly top 100 degrees; over allegations of bribery and corruption among FIFA officials who voted for Qatar; and over concerns about human rights abuses that have persisted in the years since. Now, with the World Cup days away, the Gulf country is expecting the arrival of more than a million fans. And billions more will tune in to watch the tournament’s 64 games. Yet the controversies have not subsided. …”
NPR
Vox: The many, many controversies surrounding the 2022 World Cup, explained

World Cup TV preview: Fox’s plans, crew assignments and a big viewership hope


“We watch because of Alphonso Davies, Kylian Mbappe and the rest of the planet’s magicians. The World Cup is a beautiful amalgamation of the best of sport, a global gathering of artistry and athletic hope. It’s also a moral quagmire, and no more so than this year’s tournament in Qatar. When Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president and a high priest of oleaginous behavior, questions the location of a World Cup, we’re all deep in the muck. …”
The Athletic

Just like the hat, football’s grip could suddenly go out of fashion after Qatar – Jonathan Wilson


Hardly a bare head to be seen as Billy the white police horse helps hold back the crowd spilling on to the pitch at the 1923 FA Cup final.
“Look at a photograph of the crowd at the 1923 FA Cup final and pretty much everybody is wearing a hat. Fast-forward a quarter of a century and a rough estimate would be that a little under half the crowd at the 1948 final are similarly clad. Go forward another 25 years to 1973 and although Bob Stokoe, the Sunderland manager, topped off his tracksuit-and-mac look with a trilby, almost nobody in the stands at Wembley has their head covered. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Qatar World Cup Faces New Edict: Hide the Beer

“The message came from the highest levels of the Qatari state: The beer tents must be moved, and there would be no discussion about it. With the opening game of the World Cup only days away, Qatari organizers have been working hurriedly in recent days to relocate Budweiser-branded beer stations at eight stadiums after a sudden demand that three people with knowledge of the belated change said had come from inside the country’s royal family. …”
NY Times (Video)

Stadiums of shame: the numbers World Cup hosts Qatar don’t want to be seen

A worker on a construction site in Lusail City tries to stay hydrated.
“As the world’s media and teams start to arrive the facts and figures behind workers’ and human rights in Qatar remain hard to uncover. As 32 teams gather in Qatar for this most unsettling of World Cups, the following numbers serve as a stark reminder of the human cost of the tournament, as well as the ongoing suffering among migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ+ community in the country. …”
Guardian
Thousands of Migrant Workers Died in Qatar’s Extreme Heat. The World Cup Forced a Reckoning
‘A World Cup Built on Modern Slavery’: Stadium Workers Blow the Whistle on Qatar’s ‘Coverup’ of Migrant Deaths and Suffering

Introducing Tifo’s World Cup coverage – what we’re doing and why we’re doing it

“The World Cup in Qatar is a controversial sporting mega-event. There’s no getting around it. From allegations of corruption around the bidding process, to the highlighting of migrant worker abuses in Qatar and the country’s poor human rights record, the tournament is plagued with issues that complicate direct audience engagement. But there are very few simple answers here. Qatar 2022 isn’t a one-off. It has come to represent a confusing reality; football is not and never has been separate from global politics. …”
The Athletic (Video)

2022-23 FA Cup, 1st Round Proper: location-map, with fixtures list & current league attendances

“The FA Cup – the oldest football tournament in the world – begins its 142nd edition on Friday the 4th of November 2022. Of the 40 matches to be played in the First Round Proper, there are: 2 games on Friday the 4th, 33 games on Saturday the 5th, 4 games on Sunday the 6th, and 1 game on Monday the 7th. Televised matches are (with clubs’ league-levels noted)…Friday: Hereford (6) v Portsmouth (3); Saturday: South Shields (7) v Forest Green Rovers (3); Sunday [early]: Wrexham (5) v Oldham Athletic (5), and Sunday [late]: Torquay United (5) v Derby County (3); Monday: Bracknell Town (7) v Ipswich Town (3). …”
billsportsmaps

FIFA letter receives backlash from World Cup nations: ‘The pursuit of such a strategy will be self-defeating’

“A letter which FIFA sent to every World Cup nation asking them to ‘focus on the football’ in Qatar rather than ‘every ideological and political battle that exists’ has been criticised by several recipients. The build-up to the tournament has been overshadowed by allegations of serious human rights abuses, including Qatar’s criminalisation of homosexuality, the widespread death of migrant workers, and the limited rights of women in the country. …”
The Athletic

Qatar World Cup: What was promised and what is actually being delivered

“’The promise given was a necessity of the past; the word broken is a necessity of the present.’ Florentine diplomat, historian and philosopher (a genuine Renaissance man) Niccolo Machiavelli would have been good at winning bids for major sporting events. A World Cup for all of Italy? Sure. Us, the Duchy of Milan, Papal States, Venetian Republic, we’re all Italian brothers. A dozen new stadiums? Absolutely — why not 15? New roads? Of course, we’ll pave them with gold! …”
The Athletic
NY Times: The World Cup is Weeks Away. Will Qatar Be Ready?
NY Times: Qatar Offered Fans Free World Cup Trips, but Only on Its Terms (Video)

‘When you’re a referee of colour, you stand out more. But things are changing’

“On August 23, 1997, Uriah Rennie became the first black man to referee a Premier League match. Rennie, who made his bow overseeing a game between Leeds United and Crystal Palace, had a career that lasted 11 seasons and more than 170 games, until his final game on May 11, 2008, where he officiated a 2-0 victory for Liverpool over Tottenham. Rennie’s final appearance remains the last time a black man was the lead match official in a Premier League fixture. …”
The Athletic

The 92 Club: Morecambe, the Completely-Suzuki Stadium and the finale… for now

“There is an exclusive group called the Ninety-Two Club, whose members have watched a competitive first-team match at every Premier League and EFL stadium. Our Richard Sutcliffe has wanted to join for 40 years but his quest has proved less than straightforward. He started 2022-23 with eight grounds to tick off. After visiting AFC Wimbledon and Oxford United during the opening 10 days of the new season, making two trips to Forest Green Rovers and taking in a midweek journey to Salford, he is ready to cross the finish line…”
The Athletic

John Bramley-Moore, slavery and the site of Everton’s new stadium

“Mary Anne Kinloch was a Beatles fan, and when she visited Liverpool from Canada in 1970, the place she really wanted to see was Mathew Street’s Cavern nightclub. Yet she also had family connections with the city. One-hundred and thirty years earlier, John Bramley-Moore, her great, great grandfather, was a major player in Liverpool politics. He became the Lord Mayor after campaigning for the northward extension of the docks, a decision which ensured Liverpool remained a global port for more than a century. …”
The Athletic

World Cup provisional squads explained: What are the rules and will they be made public?


“A month from today, it all begins. The World Cup in Qatar looms ever larger on the horizon and the countdown is on to the first of 64 games that will crown a winner at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday, December 18. Doubts persist over the suitability of Qatar to host this World Cup, as well as its readiness to welcome more than one million visitors, but the biggest names in football are about to descend on a tiny Gulf nation that’s half the size of Wales and roughly as big as the US state of Connecticut. …”
The Athletic
The Analyst: World Cup 2022 Guide to Each Group

Qatar timeline: From winning the World Cup bid in 2010 to now

“In 2010, Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The country would become the first in the Middle East to host the world’s biggest sporting event, beating stiff competition from the United States and Australia. Since then, a flurry of corruption allegations and claims of Qatar ‘buying the World Cup’ have surfaced while the country’s treatment of migrant workers has also been in the spotlight. Here is a timeline of events and landmarks since Qatar won the World Cup bid. …”
Al jazeera

U.S. Soccer approaches Qatar World Cup with a focus on human rights issues

“Nearly two years before the U.S. men’s national team took the field for its first World Cup qualifier, officials at U.S. Soccer began planning for a tournament in Qatar they knew would bring significant challenges, and raise important issues, should the U.S. make it there. FIFA’s decision to select Qatar as a World Cup host has been under great scrutiny due to several issues regarding the country’s human rights record, including: workers’ rights and the country’s use of the kafala system for migrant workers; the reported deaths of hundreds of migrant workers tied to the building of soccer stadiums; women’s rights; and laws that criminalize homosexuality. …”
The Athletic
Guardian – Forget ‘sportswashing’: Qatar 2022 is about military might and hard sports power

La Liga Chief’s Feud With P.S.G. President Veers Into Court

“For months, it seemed, the feud between the leader of Spain’s top soccer league and the president of the Qatar-owned French team Paris St.-Germain has played out noisily, and in public. Javier Tebas, the outspoken president of La Liga, would regularly criticize Paris St.-Germain and its Qatari leaders, accusing them of flagrantly breaking European soccer’s financial rules. And occasionally, the P.S.G. president, Nasser al-Khelaifi, would respond to Tebas with his own accusations, questioning the health of Spanish soccer, or trade barbs with him in the news media and in speeches. The more high-stakes fight, it turns out, was taking place behind the scenes. …”
NY Times

Football corruption and the remarkable road to Qatar’s World Cup

“With the surrounding noise on human rights, worker deaths, image laundering and the rest, it is easy to forget what Qatar 2022 is really all about, the founding message at the very heart of this global festival of football. Which is, of course, corruption. Committee members living high on someone else’s hog. Development money that never developed. The fat, wet handshake wrapped up in a TV rights deal. It is time, six weeks away from Fifa’s winter World Cup, to consider the base note of this thing. …”
Guardian

Mexico’s worrying injuries, ‘public enemy No. 1’ manager and low expectations

“Mexico lost to Colombia 3-2 in their second of two World Cup friendlies during the September FIFA window. Injuries to several key starters and the continued embattlement of manager Gerardo Martino dominated the headlines in Mexico. The Mexicans have one final World Cup tune-up against Sweden in Girona, Spain on November 16 before their opening match of the tournament against Poland. But this window left plenty to analyze. …”
The Athletic