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Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

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World Cup Ramble: The competition is underway... and absolutely nobody is looking forward to it!

THE WORLD CUP HAS STARTED! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaa...aaaa...aaaargh. Meh. Is it nearly time for Sunderland v Millwall yet?!

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Infantino’s goes off the deep end

In a game of FIFA top trumps, it’s been generally assumed Sepp Blatter was an unbeatable card. Bribability: Very high. Detachment from reality: Not even in the same stratosphere. Number of fingers in pies: 12. That’s more than he’s actually got I hear you say? I know but that’s how much the man loved pies.

However there’s a new kid on the block, in the form of Gianni Infantino, who has delivered the sort of speech you would only expect from Chris Eubank on acid. Or Eric Cantona at an awards ceremony. Corrupt, who knows but crackpot barmy? Absolutely.

In a 90 minute press conference, more than half of the media assembled had to seek hospital treatment for the hairline fractures inflicted as their jaws dropped repeatedly. “Today I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel a migrant worker”said Infantino, for reasons precisely no one can fathom.

But hey you know what - maybe it was an attempt to smoke out those dastardly Qataris, quashers of human rights and freedom of expression. Perhaps he was trying to induce them into arresting him for saying he was gay, in an attempt to highlight the pure injustice of such medieval laws. Infantino, willing to fall on his own sword for the protection of the LGBTQ community across the world. What a damn hero.

Chance would be a fine thing really, wouldn’t it? Truth is, this was all followed by a dressing down of European behaviour over the last 3,000 years. Look Gianni, I’ve apologised time and time again for the behaviour of the Border Reivers throughout the centuries, I don’t know how much more I can say I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have stolen those sheep.

It’s the classic whataboutery isn’t it? We’ve seen it so beautifully played by the heed choppaz up the road over the last 12 months, so you’ll have to get up pretty early in the morning to get that one past me. Bottom line is, the oppression of people because of their sexual orientation, the treatment of migrant workers or of women all remain present and serious issues and should be treated as such. Just don’t turn it back on us to justify your organisation’s triple-cooked levels of corruption.

The next question I have is, who the f*ck signed off on that speech? And while I’m at it, who wrote it? It’s interesting to note FIFA’s head of communications is none other than Bryan Swanson, ex Sky Sports reporter but long before that, general news hack on none other than North East Tonight. The boy done good.

However what on earth he and Infantino had been imbibing before penning that crock of nonsense is anyone’s guess. Did they go on a lads night out, drank too much down the Red Lion in Doha and decided to go dune rolling in the middle of the night, before waking up the next day dehydrated and delirious and with a thirst to write?

Swanson did launch an impassioned defence of Infantino, but the truth is that’s probably because he’s on the FIFA payroll. In fact, it wasn’t so much a double-down as a treble-down.

Sadly, we are seeing an organisation displaying levels of ridiculousness rarely seen in their attempt to justify awarding the World Cup to a nation woefully ill-equipped to host it, through a process that is more questionable than the decision to let Jeff Whitley take a penalty.

Qatar v Ecuador -World Cup Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The culture clash continues

There is something quite... watchable about events unfolding in the middle east. The clash of cultures between conservative Qatar and beer drinking, undesirable England fans is something I want a front row seat for.

The decision a mere 48 hours before the start of the tournament to ban Budweiser from stadiums is in many ways a pretty funny one. Firstly, Budweiser tastes like shit. And anyone who feels the need to pay £12 a pop for a can of that nonsense clearly isn’t well. Personally, I’d be thinking about how much money that decision would have saved me.

However, it’s not gone down well with some people. “I think they should respect our culture” gobbed off one England fan after the decision was announced, clearly unaware that it was she that was going to another country and the reverse should be opposite. Because if the most you have to worry about is not having access to a couple of cans of Bud during a match, then I’d say you’re doing pretty well.

Imagine if we were holding the World Cup and Qatar fans were up in arms about the sale of alcohol and they said “they should respect our culture.” It would go down exactly as you might expect I imagine. And yes, I know that’s whataboutery, but I couldn’t care less.

You know the way this is going to pan out though. In a few days we’re going to hear about how actually the beer ban was a good thing, it led to better behaviour and the game will have passed off without much incident. Except of course for the Daily Mail article carrying quotes from a few louts who will be moaning about how they were thrown in a cell and treated rather poorly for 24 hours before having their passports returned.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar - FIFA Fan Festival Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Le Tiss gets Le Pied off

As another major tournament rolls around, the age old questions around England’s preparedness for penalties rears its head. Of course one solution is to get someone who was rather good at them to give their advice on how to take them.

And so enter a man who has harpooned his reputation as if he were a Japanese whaling boat, Matt Le Tissier.

Speaking on the GB News programme Nigel Farage drinks naff beer and spouts shite, Le Tissier revealed that he had offered his services to England ahead of the tournament.

Er, no thanks Matt. You probably think all those migrant workers who died were simply crisis actors trying to make some sort of point.

Thankfully he was given the bum’s rush from FA HQ. Something which clearly stung Matt. “There were probably other managers that may have been more likely to listen than the woke Mr Southgate” he moaned.

Now I might be thick as mince, but what exactly is woke about not taking advice on penalty taking? Is it something that the covid-deniers, brexiteers and people who refer to migrants as “illegals” just absolutely hate?

Honestly what goes through that man’s head is anyone’s guess. There’s no doubt his football career is the secondary thing he’s known for in life - his Wikipedia page should probably read “Matt Le Tissier is a conspiracy theorist and former professional footballer.”

Accommodation called into question

Perhaps the real thing which should get people up in arms is the quality of the accommodation on offer. Come on Qatar, you’ve had about 12 years to sort this. Put into context, when you were awarded the World Cup, Jewison Bennette was six years old.

We have seen countless picture of rooms which you might expect to find in the dirtiest bail hostels of Benwell, and certainly not something you would be happy paying £180 a night for. That’s what you get though if you award the tournament to a country which hasn’t got the infrastructure to handle this sort of thing. It’s not Qatar’s fault, it’s just a pretty small country.

The worst thing about it though is the lack of shade - imagine being in 30-odd degree heat after a few Buds with no access to water. If you ask me, they’ve done everyone a favour by banning beers at stadiums.

Al Bayt Stadium Tour Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

News In Brief

  • Kieffer Moore has stoked the fires of rivalry by saying he “can’t wait” to put England out of the World Cup. Fair enough, it must be hard for Wales, being in Three Lion’s shadow for so long. But it must be doubly hard for all those English lads in the Wales squad who knew they’d never be good enough to play for England. That’s got to give you motivation.
  • In a very good example of misinformation, Qatar has flatly denied rumours that Ecuador’s players were offered over £7m to lose the opening match of the tournament.


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