The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been one for the ages with some top-quality performances from international superstars. The World Cup has witnessed some sensational football from top-quality teams while we have seen some shocking upsets as well.
But, football is not the only thing that has made this World Cup a memorable one. The special thing about this World Cup has been some incredible side stories off the pitch that have added extra drama to the event.
Let’s have a look at such incidents that have heated up the tournament big time:
Ever since Qatar was awarded the hosting rights for the tournament in 2010, it has suffered plenty of backlash due to a number of reasons. First of all, people raised concerns about the questionable circumstances under which Qatar won the hosting rights with rumors of huge bribes given to FIFA officials.
Then followed the treatment of migrant workers who worked hard to build stadiums in Qatar. These allegations were followed by Qatar’s stand on LGBTQ+ rights.
Fans carried out massive protests to boycott the 2022 FIFA World Cup. These protests put the World Cup under major scrutiny.
In protest of Qatar’s human rights violations, BBC refused to air the opening ceremony of the tournament. It was a move that did not make sense but shed further light on the mega-event.
BBC’s refusal to air the opening ceremony was called out by a majority of the fans as they labeled the television network as ‘hypocrites’.
Saudi Arabia provided an early shock in the tournament as they shocked the two-time champions, Argentina, by 2-1. The historic achievement sent Saudi Arabian fans into a frenzy as fans all over the world celebrated the country’s biggest football achievement in history.
As part of the celebrations, the Saudi Arabian government announced the next day as a public holiday, depicting football as a truly beautiful sport.
Saudi Arabia’s celebrations did not impress Germany, as they were in no mood to celebrate. Germany put on a statement against Qatar’s refusal to allow ‘rainbow-colored’ armbands, as the players put their hands on their mouths in their team photo prior to their opening encounter against Japan.
Germany’s protest did not have as much impact as they suffered an upset at the hands of Japan, which provided a perfect opportunity for football fans to troll the team for their antics.
Israelis expressed their displeasure as fans in Qatar refused to give interviews to Israeli journalists as a protest for their atrocities in Palestine. Multiple videos surfaced online as people declined interviews after finding out that the media outlet belonged to Israel.
Many fans pointed out that these refusals cannot even be compared to the actions of Israel against Palestinians.
Morocco’s historic 2-0 win against the second-ranked side in the world, Belgium, prompted riots in Brussels as Moroccon fans stormed the streets to celebrate their team’s victory.
It is still unclear what led to riots in the capital city, but 12 people were detained by the police as clashes broke out between the fans and the police.
An Iranian fan showcased solidarity with Mahsa Amini as she held up the national team’s shirt with her name on it. Mahsa Amini was an Iranian woman who died under suspicious circumstances in a hospital in Iran. Amini’s death resulted in massive protests against the government.
Iran’s manager, Carlos Quieroz, and former German player, Jurgen Klinsmann, were involved in a war of words after Klinsmann criticized Iran for their playing style.
Klinsmann’s criticism irked the Iranian manager as he believed Klinsmann’s choice of words and his perception of the Middle Eastern country reeked of racism.
Queiroz took to Twitter to advise Klinsmann of learning about the ‘culture’ and keep his facts in check before criticizing the country.
An unlikely one-sided Twitter fight broke out between Argentinian captain, Lionel Messi and Mexican boxer, Canelo Alvarez after Argentina’s win against Mexico.
Alvarez took to Twitter to threaten Messi as it looked like Messi disrespected the Mexican shirt by throwing it on the floor in the dressing room. Canelo did not take it lightly as he threatened to punch Messi. Former Argentinian footballer, Sergio Aguero, and former Spain player, Cesc Fabregas, stepped in to educate Alvarez on the matter.
Alvarez went on to apologize to Messi afterward.
Well, Iran and USA have been at loggerheads for quite some time now. The rivalry seemed to boil over after USA national football team’s Twitter account posted an image with an altered Iran flag.
Iranian fans did not take the incident lightly and requested FIFA to ban the USA from the World Cup after their disrespectful behavior. While no action was taken by FIFA, the USA Twitter account did remove the image and replaced it with Iran’s original flag.
USA went on to defeat Iran by 1-0 as they secured a place in the next round while Iran was eliminated from the tournament.
A very unlikely rivalry broke out between Canada and Croatia prior to their group game. Canadian manager’s unsavory comments regarding Croatia were not taken lightly by Croatian players.
Croatia won the match 4-1 and their manager thanked the Canadian manager for lighting a fire within his players. Canada was knocked out of the tournament after suffering two consecutive losses in the tournament.
Cameroon was rocked by a fight between their goalkeeper, Andre Onana, and their manager, Rigobert Song, prior to their second group game against Serbia. Onana was subsequently sent home from the World Cup.
The match ended in an exciting 3-3 draw with all left to play for both sides in the final group game.
What do you think? Is this the most exciting FIFA World Cup ever? Write your suggestions in the comments!