The first-ever winter edition of the World Cup is now within touching distance, with hosts Qatar getting the tournament underway on Sunday. VIP Magazine’s IKENNA OKAFOR begins a daily countdown to the biggest football event on the planet with incisive and precise updates.
News and titbits
Don’t politicise sports – Macron warns
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said “sport shouldn’t be politicized,” days before the beginning of the controversy-tainted football World Cup in Qatar.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok, Macron was asked about Qatar’s human rights record and the environmental impact of organizing the competition in a desert petrol-state. “These questions need to be addressed when the event is awarded,” Macron responded.
The French men’s football team is one of the favourites for the upcoming tournament, which has been mired in repeated controversy since it was awarded to Qatar in 2010. Bribery and corruption allegations surrounded the bidding process, and activists, politicians and some footballers have slammed Qatar’s human rights record, its treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community.
Most shocking moments
Brazil striker Ronaldo had been a star player during the 1998 World Cup but he suffered a convulsive fit a few hours before the final with France. He was taken to hospital and was dropped from the team, only to be reinstated at the last minute. Brazil went on to lose 3-0.
Ghana was hoping to be the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final and was on the attack in the last minute of extra time as their thrilling 2010 quarter-final with Uruguay was tied at 2-2. Luis Suarez blatantly blocked Dominic Adiyiah’s header off the line with his hand and was sent off but Asamoah Gyan could not take advantage. His penalty bounced off the crossbar with Suarez, watching on from the tunnel, wildly celebrating the miss. Ghana then lost the penalty shootout 4-2.
What’s new in Qatar
With the temperatures expected to vary between 14°C to 31°C, the stadiums in Qatar will be fitted with cooling equipment. The cooling technology will help maintain temperatures between 18-24°C, enabling the spectators to have a pleasant viewing experience.
Sensors will maintain the temperatures in the stadium, and will also change airflows for the seats either in the sun or shade.
The technology will use solar energy powering fans that extract outside air and cool it.
Keeping in line with the five substitutions rule, teams are now been allowed to name 26-member squads for the FIFA World Cup, instead of 23 previously.
The same 26-member squads were followed during the European Championships and Copa America last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. FIFA said that the decision to expand squads from 23 to 26 was done because of the ‘unique timing’ of the upcoming edition.
World Cup Squads
Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez, Geronimo Rulli, Franco Arman
Defenders: Nahuel Molina, Gonzalo Montiel, Cristian Romero, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Lisandro Martinez, Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Tagliafico, Juan Foyth
Midfielders: Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Alexis Mac Allister, Guido Rodriguez, Alejandro Gomez, Enzo Fernandez, Exequiel Palacios
Forwards: Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala, Lautaro Martinez, Julian Alvarez, Nicolas Gonzalez, Joaquin Correa, Lionel Messi
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Defenders: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Ben White
Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, James Maddison, Conor Gallagher
Forwards: Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Callum Wilson
Goalkeepers: Yassine Bono, Munir, Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti
Defenders: Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss, Noussair Mazraoui, Nayef Aguerd, Achraf Dari, Jawad El-Yamiq, Yahia Attiat-Allal, Badr Benoun
Midfielders: Sofyan Amrabat, Selim Amallah, Abdelhamid Sabiri, Azzedine Ounahi, Bilel El Khanouss, Yahya Jabrane
Forwards: Hakim Ziyech, Youssef El-Nesri, Sofiane Boufal, Ez Abde, Amine Harit, Zakaria Aboukhlal, Ilias Chair, Walid Cheddira, Abderazzak Hamdallah
Missing in action
REECE JAMES (ENGLAND)
The 22-year-old right-back injured his knee in Chelsea’s Champions League game against AC Milan in October and said he will not be a part of the England team.
DIOGO JOTA (PORTUGAL)
Liverpool’s Diogo Jota will miss the tournament due to a calf injury sustained in the Reds’ victory over Manchester City. Thankfully, the forward will not require surgery.
MARCO REUS (GERMANY)
The Borussia Dortmund captain sustained an ankle injury and failed to recover fully in time. Reus also missed the 2014 World Cup after getting injured on the eve of their departure for Brazil, where they won the title.