This year’s World Cup was a tournament of firsts – the first to be held in the Middle East, the first to be held in November-December and the first where a woman has refereed a men’s World Cup match.
From surprise wins to tears and spectacular goals, this tournament will be remembered forever. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the 2022 World Cup.
On the eve of the tournament, FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s extraordinary tirade at a press conference made headlines around the world. In an explosive hour-long monologue, he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.
The tournament has been mired in controversy, with much of the buildup focusing on human rights, the deaths of migrant workers and the conditions many have endured in Qatar, LGBTQ and women’s rights.
“We are taught many lessons from the Europeans, from the Western world,” Infantino said, referring to criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
“What we Europeans have been doing for 3,000 years, we should apologize for for the next 3,000 years before we start giving moral lessons.”
The FIFA president went on to say he knows what it is like to be discriminated against, saying he was bullied as a child for having red hair and freckles.
“Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arab. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. I feel like a migrant worker,” he told a stunned audience.
His remarks were described by human rights groups as “rude” and an “insult” to migrant workers.
This World Cup will remain in the collective memory as a tournament of upheavals. This year, Morocco’s Atlas Lions ripped through the history books by becoming the first African country to reach the last four of the tournament – beating European heavyweights Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
Their run – ending in a 2-0 loss to France – upended all expectations. Morocco won their first World Cup game since 1998 – and third in their history – by claiming a sensational 2-0 victory over Belgium, knocking out the world’s second-placed team from the competition.
Things only got better for the Atlas Lions from there: a draw against 2018 runners-up Croatia and another win against Canada saw the Lions roar to the top of their game. band. Images of coach Walid Regragui thrown happily into the air – and players prostrating themselves on the turf in prayer – have become iconic, not just for Africans and Arabs everywhere, but for anyone who likes to support an underdog. .
This, of course, was not lost on the team itself. After Morocco’s loss to Portugal, Regragui compared his team to “Rocky”.
“We have made our people and our continent so happy and proud. When you watch ‘Rocky’ you want to support Rocky Balboa and I think we are the ‘Rocky’ of this World Cup,” said Regragui. “I think now the world is with Morocco.”
In perhaps the most unexpected upset of the tournament, Saudi Arabia beat two-time World Cup winners Argentina in a jaw-dropping Group C match.
Led by Lionel Messi and ranked third in the world, many expected Argentina to sweep Saudi Arabia, especially as Argentina had been unbeaten for three years and among the favorites to win the tournament before the blow. start, while 48 places separated the two teams in the world rankings.
But what would a World Cup be without a “did it just happen?” moment?
Watch the hilarious moment a Saudi football fan rips a door from the frame in a surprise upset
– Source: CNN
Argentina captain Messi scored an early penalty to put his side ahead, but two second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari turned the game upside down – and were the catalyst for an outburst of cheers from Saudi fans . .
Especially an ecstatic man, who tore his door from its frame in exultation.
It’s a way to celebrate!
In another unexpected twist, 2014 world champions Germany suffered a shock defeat to Japan on matchday one – ultimately setting the tone for a lackluster World Cup for the Germans.
Finishing bottom of the group at Russia 2018, a tournament Germany entered as defending champions, was a historic low for the four-time World Cup winner. It was the first time in 80 years that the German national team failed to qualify for the round of 16 of the tournament.
This year, the team was no doubt hoping for an improvement.
Germany dominated for long periods of the game against Japan and had plenty of chances to extend their lead after leading 1-0. But Japan took advantage of their luck and were clinical when opportunities presented themselves.
Eventually the team beat Germany 2-1.
A second game against Spain earned the Germans a hard-fought draw – but despite Costa Rica winning 4-2 in their Group E final, it wasn’t enough as Japan beat Spain 2- 1 in their final group match to advance to the knockout stages. alongside the Spaniards, sending Germany home.
Stéphanie Frappart made history at this tournament by becoming the first woman to referee a men’s World Cup match.
Alongside Brazilian assistants Neuza Back and Mexican Karen Diaz, the Frenchwoman was part of an all-female referee trio who officiated Costa Rica against Germany in their Group E match.
“It’s a surprise, you can’t believe it and after two or three minutes you realize you’re going to the World Cup. It’s incredible, not only for me, but also for my family and also for the French referees,” she told CNN Sport.
Frappart’s World Cup debut is just one addition to her list of firsts: in 2019 she became the first female referee to take charge of a Ligue 1 match, in August 2019 the first to take charge of a major men’s European game, and in 2020, the first to officiate a men’s UEFA Champions League game.
All eyes will undoubtedly be on Messi this Sunday as Argentina take on France in the final. But the 35-year-old has already made tournament history, scoring in what was the 1,000th game of his storied career as Argentina beat Australia 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals. .
Captaining his national side for the 100th time, Messi sparked this game of the last 16 midway through the first half, heading home softly after some neat warm-up play – his 789th career goal.
Of course, Messi undoubtedly has his eyes set on a bigger prize, and on Sunday he will have one last chance to lift the trophy, in front of some of the estimated 40,000 Argentine fans who have traveled to Qatar for this World Cup. Eight years ago, Messi and Argentina reached the World Cup final in Brazil only to be beaten 1-0 by Germany.
Asked if Sunday’s game will be his last at the World Cup, Messi replied: “Yes. Definitely yes. There are still a lot of years to go until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and ending like this is better.
It was to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s last World Cup. Instead of a glorious final, the 37-year-old striker left the pitch in tears after Portugal lost 1-0 to Morocco in the quarter-finals.
Unable to hide his emotions, Ronaldo was seen being escorted by a member of staff from the Al Thumama Stadium pitch to the Portugal squad’s dressing room immediately after the defeat.
It was not the only disappointment he encountered in Qatar.
In the clash between Portugal and Uruguay, Ronaldo thought he had equaled Portugal great Eusebio’s record as the all-time top scorer in the World Cup.
His teammates gathered around him in celebration, while commentators and pundits praised him for getting the slightest touch from Bruno Fernandes’ cross to deflect the ball past the Uruguay keeper.
Ronaldo scored his second goal in as many games at the 2022 World Cup and his ninth for Portugal at the World Cups. Or so we thought.
As the party atmosphere at the iconic Lusail stadium kicked up a notch, a surprising announcement was made by the stadium announcer.
The goal was actually given to Fernandes, not Ronaldo. Ouch.
It wasn’t all bleak for Ronaldo – as Portugal took on Ghana, Ronaldo became the first male player in history to score at five World Cups – a feat which Brazilian striker Marta became the first female player to achieve in 2019.
The Brazilian team celebrated in style in Qatar. The team entered this tournament as favorites to lift the trophy – but their three group games were heavy affairs and showed only brief flashes of the flair associated with Brazil over the years.
However, with a 4-1 victory over South Korea, the team finally showed why they are normally so feared and revered – and showed off their dancing skills. It included perfectly timed choreographed moves as Brazil celebrated each of their four goals in style, even convincing head coach Tite to join Richarlison’s ‘pigeon dance’ for the third goal.
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