2022 World Cup briefing: Qatar’s big show comes to an end | World Cup 2022

The main event

If nothing else, you imagine that idle curiosity will probably get the better of him, but even if he doesn’t, he’ll find out soon enough. Whether he chooses to go out for a dog walk, whether he’s sitting at home watching ITV4’s double bill Midsomer Murders or cooped up somewhere with his Liverpool team-mates sitting in earbuds and his back to the screen to better carefully ignore it, Virgil van Dijk will find out who won the world Cup around the same time as the rest of us who followed him.

It was a visibly distraught Van Dijk who, when asked if he thought Argentina would win following their bad temper quarter-final victory against the Netherlands, told a reporter laconically: “I don’t care, I won’t watch anymore.” Having just missed a penalty in the previous shootout, he was understandably injured and could be excused for his dismissive response. More than a week later, there’s every chance Van Dijk still doesn’t care how Sunday’s final plays out or who wins it, but if it really does, he’s sure to be part of it. a very small minority of footballers.

For over 12 years and counting, it’s been impossible not to have a view of Qatar 2022, from the moment, to a mixture of general cheers and gasps of astonishment, Sepp Blatter pulled out the card bearing the arabian peninsula country name of this infamous envelope in December 2010. An opinion on whether it should take place in Qatar, an opinion on whether it would actually take place in Qatar, and then, in recent years, an opinion on the incalculable and much disputed human cost of its realization. in Qatar when it became clear that it was in Qatar that it would definitely be held.

Quick Guide

Qatar: beyond football

To show

It’s a World Cup like no other. For the past 12 years, the Guardian has reported on the issues surrounding Qatar 2022, from corruption and human rights abuses to the treatment of migrant workers and discriminatory laws. The best of our journalism is brought together on our dedicated site Qatar: Beyond Football homepage for those who want to delve deeper into issues beyond the field.

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Photography: Caspar Benson

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Blatter has since acknowledged what many of us already knew by saying that giving Qatar hosting rights was a mistake” and a “bad choice”, even though its mea culpa was about the size of the country rather than the human rights violations perpetrated within its borders. It was indeed “a mistake” and a “bad choice” even though Gianni Infantino, Blatter’s equally selfish successor as Fifa president, broke a silence unworthy of almost a month to hail this indelible mark in the history of world sport as “an incredible success on all fronts”.

Despite all the nonsense talk from Infantino, despite the indescribable sadness surrounding this often flashy but carefully polished Fifa spectacle, Qatar 2022 was an incredible success on one front, in that much of the football played was undeniably sublime. Later on Sunday, the 64th and final game of an up-and-coming soap opera will be played, the winners crowned and the trophy hoisted triumphantly skyward. With so many contrasting story arcs and potential twists and turns, it promises to be the hugely compelling sports spectacle its organizers hoped for, though, like Van Dijk, we might all have good reason to avoid tuning in. BG

The men's and women's World Cup trophies on display at Lusail Stadium
The men’s and women’s World Cup trophies on display at Lusail Stadium. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Fifa/Getty Images

Talking Points

Croatia signs in style
Mislav Orsic’s magnificent goal would have been worthy of winning the World Cup. It was certainly worthy of win third place for Croatia. The winger’s perfectly soaring curler at an angle, lifted and over the towering frame of Yassine Bounou, aka Bono, was one of the tournament’s goals. It was the kind of effort you’re unlikely to see in a final when the pressure is so much greater, the stakes so much higher. In that sense, it was good publicity for the idea of ​​a third-place playoff, and the football was engaging throughout. Morocco may not have gotten the result they wanted, but the game was a chance for their excellent fans to celebrate and pay tribute to the players for making them proud in their run to the semi-finals . The team’s treatment of the referee was the only sour note, but other than that it was a resounding success. LMc

Croatian players, coaching staff and family members celebrate with their medals
Croatian players, coaching staff and family members celebrate with their medals. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

End of an era for La Liga
Sergio Busquets’ retirement from international football marked the final departure for Spain’s 2010 World Cup-winning side. the end of that era when Barcelona and Real Madrid dominated the world stage, starting in the late 2000s. Madrid may be the champions of the Champions League but Modric, although he plans to play until 2024, is among the last of the old guard. In Barcelona, ​​a club that fell out of favor due to financial mismanagement, Busquets and Jordi Alba, a survivor of Spain’s Euro 2012 winners, are the last men standing. The La Liga giants haven’t been as dominant as in previous tournaments. Argentina haven’t used any players from either club, although Barcelona have provided Jules Koundé and Ousmane Dembélé for France, who also have Madrid’s Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga. J.B.

David Beckham did his first public statement on his controversial involvement with the World Cup host country, telling a US newspaper through a spokesperson that he “has always believed that sport has the power to be a force for good in the world”. “We understand that there are different and entrenched views on engagement in the Middle East, but we see it as positive that debate on key issues has been stimulated directly by the region’s first ever World Cup. “, continues the press release. He added: “We hope these conversations will lead to greater understanding and empathy for all people and that progress will be made.”

The statement, made in the New York Times, came in response to intense criticism that Beckham, 47, had accepted millions of pounds from Qatar to serve as an ambassador for the games despite the country’s repressive stance on LGBTQ+ rights, its human rights record and the allegations of mistreatment of migrant workers.

David Beckham flanked by Luis Figo (left) and Robbie Keane during the third place playoff
David Beckham surrounded by Luis Figo (left) and Robbie Keane during the third place playoff. Photography: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Today’s game

Argentina v France (Final, 3pm GMT, BBC One and ITV1) Some suggest that France was lucky at this tournament, but the progress of the champions towards a second consecutive final has nothing to do with good fortune. It’s largely down to talent, team spirit, teamwork – and a generous helping of hard work. Whether France manage to blunt the threat of Messi or Argentina find a formula to deny Kylian Mbappé and co, the team that will lift the trophy will have deserved it. Maybe Messi and Will Mbappé thrive against defenses that have at times looked vulnerable, and we will see a high-scoring classic? Maybe a secondary cast member, like Julián Álvarez or Olivier Giroud, will seize the moment. Messi’s ultimate dream is incredibly close and many neutrals want to see him achieve it. The formidable France, and its relentless coach Didier Deschamps, stand in its way. LMc

The man in the middle

Poland will provide the referee for the final in Szymon Marciniak, a 41-year-old from Plock, with compatriots Pawel Sokolnicki and Tomasz Listkiewicz as assistants, and Tomasz Kwiatkowski leading the VAR effort. Ismail Elfath, an American, will be the fourth official. Marciniak refereed two games four years ago in the group stage in Russia but missed Euro 2020 due to tachycardia. “Now life is giving me back and I can’t even stop smiling because it’s a great feeling,” said Marciniak, who sports the same World Cup final haircut as his predecessors Pierluigi Collina. (2002) and Howard Webb (2010) … and Gianni Infantino himself. J.B.

Szymon Marciniak officiates Argentina's Round of 16 win over Australia
Szymon Marciniak took charge of Argentina’s round of 16 win over Australia. Photography: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Global media watch

In France, on the eve of the final, L’Équipe drew an apt comparison between Brazilian great Pelé and young megastar Mbappé. The front page of the newspaper placed an image of Pelé celebrating the 1970 World Cup, side by side with a similar shot of Mbappé celebrating with teammate Giroud. “Their Story” was the title. “With victory tomorrow, Mbappé’s France would join Brazil, the last country to win back-to-back World Cups,” the caption read. “Mbappé would be the first player since Pelé to be crowned twice. Meanwhile, here is the front page of sunday. LMc

The comparison is not blasphemous.

The only player from the past to whom I could compare this new dominant Mbappé in number 10 is Pelé

— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) December 17, 2022

internet reacts

Who said romance was dead? Two Moroccan fans showed up for the qualifiers as boyfriend and girlfriend… but left with a wedding to plan.

And finally …

That concludes the Qatar 2022 briefing, but the joy of this World Cup schedule means there are just three and a half years to go until the next men’s final. The United States, Mexico and Canada will be the host trio for a large and sprawling 48-team tournament whose format has yet to be determined. What is almost certain is that Gianni Infantino, whose Fifa presidential reign will extend to a third term as he was an unopposed candidate, will declare the North American World Cup as the “best of all”. time”. He said that for Russia 2018 and it has been his mantra for the preparation and throughout this tournament. Making $7.5 billion in revenue, $1 billion more than expected, partly explains that praise. Over the next four years, Fifa is expected to collect $10 billion in revenue from sponsors, TV rights and 2026 tickets.

Banner thanking Qatar for the 2022 event and looking forward to the 2026 tournament
Not long now. Photography: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

Of course, before all that there is the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July, another winter tournament. There, I hope real football will speak more. J.B.

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