World Cup speaking factors: Shocks, nice targets; FIFA, OneLove mess


We’re one full week of motion into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and already, there’s been a complete match’s price of speaking factors each on and off the sector.

On the pitch, the likes of Spain, England, France and Saudi Arabia have impressed with notable wins, whereas Argentina (who misplaced to the Saudis), Germany (who have been surprised by Japan) and Wales have all struggled to make an affect.

We have had FIFA U-turns and points with protests in opposition to the hosts, we have had extra 0-0 attracts than we noticed within the entirety of Russia 2018, and there are some new stars making their mark on the game’s largest stage.

ESPN’s reporters in Qatar focus on their speaking factors and finest/worst moments of the opening week each on and off the sector, primarily based on video games they’ve attended to date.

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Greatest on-field second of week one?

Rob Dawson: Saudi Arabia arrived in Qatar because the second lowest ranked crew on the World Cup, gave Argentina and Lionel Messi a 1-0 headstart and nonetheless got here again to win 2-1. How do you prime a second like that?

Gab Marcotti: Takuma Asano‘s strike previous Manuel Neuer that despatched Japan to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Germany. It got here moments after Japan’s equaliser and it turned the sport — and the story — on its head.

Mark Ogden: Richarlison‘s second objective for Brazil in opposition to Serbia. The Tottenham ahead is sort of the forgotten man in Brazil’s entrance three alongside Neymar and Vinicius Junior, however he claimed the highlight for himself by not solely successful the sport for the World Cup favourites, however his scissor-kick objective was the most effective of the match to date.

James Olley: Bukayo Saka‘s brace for England within the 6-2 win in opposition to Iran. Saka was racially abused after lacking a penalty in final yr’s shootout in opposition to Italy and 498 days later, the Arsenal star scored twice on Monday. It wasn’t fairly redemption — that can hopefully come later within the competitors — however his first match look since that Wembley trauma was immensely satisfying.

Tom Hamilton: The sight of seeing Christian Eriksen again on the pitch for Denmark in a significant match. It was intently adopted by Breel Embolo‘s end within the 1-0 win in opposition to Cameroon, which ended my private drought of two-and-a-half video games with out seeing a objective.

Julien Laurens: To see Olivier Giroud equal Thierry Henry’s objective scoring file for France (51 in 115 caps) was a particular second. I’ve recognized Olivier for 10 years, we’re mates and he deserves a lot credit score for his unimaginable profession. Nobody believed him when he was youthful however he by no means gave up. He saved working arduous, saved believing in himself and made all of it the best way to the very prime. Respect.

Jeff Carlisle: It must be Tim Weah’s objective within the 1-1 draw in opposition to Wales, one of many few instances that the United States capitalized on a transition second. Such a deft end, too.

Sam Borden: Weah’s objective for the US is difficult to prime, however I am going to go a bit of extra international and spotlight the emotion from the Tunisia gamers — and their unimaginable followers — through the nationwide anthem forward of their first match, which was a 0-0 draw with Denmark. Probably the greatest elements of this match being in Qatar is seeing the African and Asian groups play in entrance of some improbable help.

Kyle Bonagura: Weah’s objective was a ravishing sequence from the US, however let’s keep in mind how distinctive that second was: The son of a present head of state (Liberia), and the one African to win the Ballon d’Or (George Weah), scored at a World Cup whereas representing one other nation.



Julien Laurens confirms Neymar will miss the remainder of the World Cup group stage for Brazil after damage within the victory in opposition to Serbia.

Worst on-field second of week one?

Marcotti: Neymar limping to the sidelines after twisting his ankle in direction of the tip of Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia. This can be his ultimate World Cup and, like him or detest, him, the sport is richer with him on the pitch.

Ogden: Each time the fourth official has raised the board for stoppage time and signaled for much too many extra minutes. Soccer is not basketball: The referee has all the time been ready to make use of discretion as to when so as to add time and when to not. Including time for objective celebrations is pointless; the ref ought to simply inform the gamers to chop them quick on the pitch.

Olley: Alphonso Davies‘ penalty miss for Canada in opposition to Belgium. Taking part in at their first World Cup in 36 years, Canada have been excellent within the 1-0 loss in opposition to Belgium, and Davies had the prospect to attain the opening objective from the spot after simply 10 minutes. Thibaut Courtois is a grasp of saving penalties and he repeated the trick once more, repelling a poorly taken spot-kick and giving Belgium the platform to sneak a win.

Dawson: The look on Inaki Williams‘ face after he had missed the prospect to equalise within the final second in opposition to Portugal. You may inform he knew it was an enormous second for Ghana.

Hamilton: The whole thing of Croatia 0-0 Morocco. Morocco have been the higher crew, nevertheless it was a dire recreation missing clear-cut possibilities.

Carlisle: Walker Zimmerman conceding a penalty to Wales’ Gareth Bale. The US was so near seeing this recreation out and claiming a significant three factors. Now the Individuals are in a dogfight to get out of the group.

Borden: Watching residence crew Qatar basically be out of the tournament-opening match after half an hour in opposition to Ecuador was disappointing, particularly because it took a lot vitality out of the Qatari crowd. Actually too, because it turned out, since so many followers left lengthy earlier than the ultimate whistle.

Laurens: I miss Eden Hazard (I feel all of us do) however the true one, not the model that I noticed on Thursday for Belgium in opposition to Canada. Not that Hazard. I do know he’s off form and never match match, however I used to be nonetheless anticipating extra. He lasted 63 minutes, his stats have been poor and he had no affect on the sport. I’m nonetheless hoping to see him getting higher by this match.

Bonagura: Uruguay and South Korea understood how detrimental a loss could be to get out of the group and their 0-0 outcome was an absolute bore: Neither crew recorded a shot on objective as star forwards Luis Suarez and Son Heung-min have been each invisible.

Greatest off-field second in week one?

Dawson: The celebrations within the stands when Saudi Arabia scored their second within the shock 2-1 win in opposition to Argentina. A mix of pleasure and disbelief.

Marcotti: The man promoting (most likely unlicensed) Qatar-Ecuador half-and-half scarves earlier than the opening recreation. And the truth that he misspelled Ecuador, calling it “Equator.” And the truth that not one of the of us shopping for it appeared to care.

Ogden: A Qatari on the Metro earlier than Brazil vs. Serbia, sitting alone in a carriage filled with followers, noticed a Brazil supporter struggling to show his Brazilian flag right into a keffiyeh head scarf and walked throughout, launched himself and requested if he may do it for him. Ten seconds later, the Brazilian had a wonderfully neat head scarf and aqel rope.

Olley: Germany’s closed-mouth gesture in response to the “One Love” armband fiasco. They discovered a method to categorical their standpoint with out FIFA sanction by a strong visible picture projected all over the world.

Borden: I do know it did not presage efficiency within the match itself, as they misplaced 2-1 to Japan, however I appreciated the Germany gamers masking their mouths of their crew photograph as a method to spotlight that FIFA was muzzling them from talking out in opposition to intolerance.

Hamilton: The noise of the Tunisia followers was simply unimaginable of their 0-0 draw with Denmark, made much more raucous by the cheerleading expertise of their great midfielder Aissa Laidouni.

Carlisle: The US coaching session with migrant employees. Sure, in some methods this was a photograph op for the Supreme Committee. However good on the US gamers for stepping up and making an attempt to create some lasting reminiscences for these employees who took half.

Laurens: My crew successful the ESPN FC four-a-side match in opposition to Nedum Onuha’s crew. Nedum is my man after all nevertheless it was candy to beat him. He’ll say that he scored 4 targets, which he did to be truthful. I solely scored one however I gave 4 assists and was the right maestro main my crew. The video of the sport is out there right here on the ESPN FC YouTube channel so go and deal with your self!

Bonagura: The little moments have left the most important impression for me. It is encouraging to see followers from all around the world, regardless of language, come collectively to share impromptu moments of laughter and pleasure.



James Olley recaps a outstanding speech from FIFA president Gianni Infantino, by which he referred to as out the “hypocrisy” of countries criticising Qatar.

Worst off-field second of week one?

Marcotti: Gianni Infantino’s information convention to open the match, which changed into an interminable and far mocked speech about colonialism and Western entitlement. He wished to speak about inclusion and the tangible steps FIFA and Qatar have taken collectively; he ended up attaining the other.

Ogden: The place do you begin? The last-minute stadium alcohol ban, the specter of punishment for groups who wore the “One Love” armband, the empty seats in stadiums? There was an excessive amount of controversy for a soccer match, however the “One Love” armband subject was by far the worst. A loopy transfer by FIFA.

Olley: The entire “One Love” armband was symptomatic of FIFA tackling discrimination solely on their phrases however the greater window into the organisation’s mindset got here in Infantino’s alarming pre-tournament information convention. An hour-long monologue mixing delusion and nearly despotic behaviour.

Dawson: The choice by European FAs to desert their plan to put on the “One Love” armband. Risking a yellow card is nothing in comparison with the chance concerned in being a homosexual man or lady in Qatar, and a few issues are extra vital than soccer.

Hamilton: The overall restriction of rainbow-coloured clothes, and apparel. This was meant to be a World Cup for all, fairly than a censored match. Infantino’s opening speech simply behind in second place.

Carlisle: Wales followers getting their rainbow bucket hats confiscated. Simply one among many cases of the authorities being heavy-handed.

Borden: Infantino’s information convention, and by a long way. Rambling, absurd and at instances outright offensive, it was a merely terrible opening.

Laurens: France star Karim Benzema’s damage simply earlier than the match. He had been ready eight years for one more alternative to play in a World Cup and was wanting ahead to it. Similar to that, all of it went to mud! It was a tragic second. The Ballon d’Or winner left Doha on a flight at 8 a.m. final Sunday heartbroken and leaving his crew behind.

Bonagura: The expertise of attending Wales’ first World Cup look in 64 years was spoiled for some followers, who weren’t allowed to carry their rainbow bucket hats into the venue. Chalk it up as one other shameful second for FIFA, which later clarified the hats could be allowed.

Participant who’s impressed you essentially the most?

Marcotti: Vinicius Jr. I believed he was the one attacking participant to carry out throughout Brazil’s first half in opposition to Serbia and performed a key half within the objective. There are only a few antidotes to hurry and dedication.

Ogden: Gavi. This can be a shut one with Jude Bellingham, however in the event you turn into the youngest participant since Pele to attain within the World Cup, that is some achievement. And what a objective it was, too.

Olley: Jude Bellingham. A 19-year-old charged with the duty of fixing a place (central midfield) that is been an issue within the English crew for years. He may hardly have made a greater begin in opposition to Iran, scoring the opening objective and displaying now attribute maturity past his years in possession.

Dawson: Bruno Fernandes. He was pushed out large for Portugal’s opener in opposition to Ghana, nevertheless it was his affect that received them the sport as he arrange his aspect’s second and third targets.

Hamilton: Aissa Laidouni. From the matches I’ve seen, Tunisia‘s defensive midfielder takes this. Magnificent in opposition to Denmark as he tackled something and all the things in sight.

Carlisle: Tim Ream. The US crew’s elder statesman has been a steadying affect on what’s the second-youngest crew at this World Cup. Thus far, the final three weeks have been fairly the capstone to a stable profession.

Borden: Tyler Adams. He is hardly a secret at this level given his begin with Leeds United, however Adams continues to point out himself as a top-class worldwide midfielder. He is the engine that makes the USMNT go.

Laurens: Stephen Eustaquio. The Canada midfielder was excellent in opposition to Belgium regardless of the defeat. He bossed the midfield and shut down Kevin De Bruyne, Youri Tielemans and Axel Witsel. He’s solely 25 however this season, he has been of the most effective midfielder within the Champions League with FC Porto. He has confirmed all his potential and rising expertise already on this World Cup.

Bonagura: Gavi. Not solely was Gavi the youngest participant on the sector in Spain’s 7-0 rout of Costa Rica, he was the most effective. And his objective — to turn into the third-youngest scorer in World Cup historical past — may need been essentially the most spectacular on Matchday One till Richarlison’s stunner for Brazil.



Mark Ogden has a go searching Ras Abu Fontas fan village 10 miles south of downtown Doha.

Each crew has performed at the least one recreation. Who’s successful this World Cup?

Marcotti: Would possibly as properly stick to Brazil.

Ogden: Portugal. This can be a lengthy shot, and Brazil and Spain each impressed, however Portugal are robust in all departments and so they stepped up a gear to beat Ghana of their opener. It is also not all about Cristiano Ronaldo. They seem to be a harmful aspect.

Olley: I am sticking with Brazil. Spain have been clearly spectacular in successful 7-0, however that got here in opposition to a poor Costa Rica crew. Brazil had an analogous stage of management in opposition to a stronger Serbia aspect, and that bodes properly given the relative lack of preparation time. Nevertheless, shedding Neymar for any size of time would clearly be a significant blow.

Dawson: Argentina have been poor within the second half in opposition to Saudi Arabia, however in 1990 they misplaced their opener to Cameroon and nonetheless reached the ultimate. They’ve actually obtained the gamers to win it.

Hamilton: I stated Argentina going into the match, and I am not bailing on them after one spherical.

Carlisle: I am going to stick to Brazil. The primary fixture in opposition to Serbia was a difficult one, but they managed to get the win.

Borden: It is arduous to defend this choose after the Saudi Arabia recreation, however I am nonetheless using with Lionel Messi and Argentina. I like story, and there is not any higher story than Messi lastly successful in his final World Cup.

Laurens: What a query! Everyone knows the reply. Everybody wrote France off in spite of everything their accidents — particularly the Benzema one — however this squad is getting stronger for it, extra united than ever and with nice perception. It’s their future to defend the World Cup. Sixty years after Brazil, in opposition to all odds and adversity, they are going to retain their title.

Bonagura: Spain. The efficiency in opposition to Costa Rica may need been the one most dominant efficiency in World Cup historical past. That will not proceed in opposition to higher opposition, nevertheless it was fairly the assertion.

Largest shock (good or dangerous) since arriving in Doha?

Marcotti: I used to be genuinely stunned seeing so many Qatar followers depart earlier than the tip of the opening recreation loss to Ecuador, particularly given the lengths this nation has gone to host it.

Ogden: The lack of the native authorities to deal with crowds of individuals, whether or not it’s in a Metro station or exterior a stadium. Qatar is small, with a tiny inhabitants, so neither the police or locals know how one can react when so many individuals are attempting to occupy the identical area.

Olley: The temperature at night time. Leaving the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium after Belgium beat Canada (Kick off: 10 p.m. native time), it felt, properly, not chilly, however there was a coolness within the air I did not anticipate. The ten p.m. kick offs are an actual benefit to avoiding the warmth of earlier within the day, and even that’s offset by the ferocious air-conditioning within the stadiums. With greater than three weeks to go, I may need to purchase extra heat clothes.

Dawson: Thus far, the infrastructure in Doha seems to be dealing with the inflow of followers from all over the world and the warmth hasn’t been as excessive as some have been predicting.

Hamilton: The attention-watering costs in sure eating places, even for a bottle of water. The whole destruction of my laundry routine from the anticipated one-shirt-a-day coverage, ruined by the warmth.

Carlisle: I might say transport, largely in a great way because of the utility of the subway system. That stated, the frequency of some highway closures has been maddening at instances.

Borden: The warmth or, actually, the dearth thereof. Clearly we’re taking part in this match in a Northern Hemisphere winter for a motive, however the temperatures have not been dangerous in any respect. They’re going to nearly certainly be extra excessive at some venues throughout a summer time match in North America in 2026.

Laurens: We’re solely every week in nevertheless it has been a busy week. Nevertheless, I’ve cherished the vitality that you just discover in Doha. We go to mattress late, often after 4 a.m. due to the assorted ESPN FC TV exhibits we do and the time distinction with the US; we’re up early to go to matches or information conferences, chasing information story, writing options and but we’re nonetheless in prime type as a result of the vitality is there. The vibe is sweet in Qatar. We’re staying in a vibrant space, Mushaireb, the place a number of followers from all all over the world collect and it is nice to see.

Bonagura: I suppose I may have researched this beforehand, however I used to be positively caught off guard by sundown coming within the 4 o’clock hour. The solar is intense through the day, however within the climate has been comfy within the evenings when many of the motion is occurring.

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