World Cup guide: Qatar kick off, USA ready to play

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World Cup guide: Qatar kick off, USA ready to play

Newslooks – DOHA, Qatar (AP)

The first World Cup in the Middle East finally began on Sunday night with a glitzy opening ceremony and a match between Qatar and Ecuador without any beer for sale in the stadium.

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani waves to the crowd alongside FIFA President Giovanni Infantino, left, before the World Cup, Group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in ‘Al Khor, Sunday, November 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

The beer ban imposed two days before the start of the tournament was the latest controversial snag in a global event already under scrutiny for Qatar’s human rights record and the emirates’ frantic push to prepare the country in the most compact World Cup in history.

Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, center, arrives ahead of the start of the World Cup, Group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on Sunday Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Thousands of attendees were turned away from a Saturday night concert in the official fan zone due to overcrowding, as 1.2million visitors are expected to start arriving in the tiny Arabian Peninsula nation this week.

Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, center left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, greet each other before the start of the World Cup, Group A soccer match between Qatar and Qatar ‘Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Qatar is home to 3 million people, most of them migrant workers, and has spent more than $200 billion on improvements in the energy-rich country that is about the same size as the state of Connecticut or the Jamaica Island. Among the additions are seven new purpose-built venues, including the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium which hosted the opening ceremony and Sunday’s first match.

Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, center left, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, greet each other before the start of the World Cup, Group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

INJURIES

Two of the best players in the world were ruled out of the tournament due to injuries before it even started.

French striker Karim Benzema, winner of the Ballon d’Or, is out after injuring his left thigh during training on Saturday. Senegal striker Sadio Mane, Benzema’s runner-up in the World Player of the Year voting, has suffered a leg injury he suffered last week while playing for Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after winning the 2022 Ballon d’Or trophy during the 66th Ballon d’Or ceremony at the Theater du Chatelet in Paris, France, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Previously, French midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante were ruled out, as was German striker Timo Werner. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and South Korean captain Son Heung-min have arrived in Qatar with lingering injuries.

Pogba paid 100,000 euros to his singer brother
FILE – Manchester United’s Paul Pogba looks up during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England on Saturday October 16, 2021. French prosecutors are investigating claims that World Cup winner Paul Pogba was the target of extortion attempts by his brother and childhood friends. The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Monday August 29, 2022 that it had opened an investigation at the beginning of the month for attempted organized extortion, which is being handled by the anti-corruption police. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)

SHOW ME THE MONEY

The awarding of the World Cup to Qatar was a financial boon for FIFA, as the football governing body said it made record revenues of $7.5 billion during the four years of linked commercial deals at this year’s tournament.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks during a press conference on Saturday November 19, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Money transport is $1 billion more than the revenue from the previous business cycle of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The extra money this year was boosted by local sponsorship deals, including Qatar Energy, which joined as a premier sponsor. Qatari bank QNB and telecommunications company Ooredoo are also sponsors.

New to the sponsorship packages this year is crypto.com, the first new US sponsor in over a decade.

AND AFTER

The United States return to the World Cup after missing the 2018 tournament in Russia and open play on Monday against Gareth Bale-led Wales.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter, left, and Tyler Adams, both of the United States, attend a press conference on the eve of the Group B World Cup soccer match between the United States and the Wales at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Sunday. , Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Bale played for Los Angeles FC and helped them win the MLS Cup earlier this month.

United States midfielder Weston McKennie, center, and other players take part in an official training session at Al-Gharafa SC Stadium, in Doha, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The United States has one of the youngest teams in the 32-team tournament. Three of the Americans – Gio Reyna, Joe Scally and Yusuf Musah – were just 11 when the national team last played a World Cup game.

Gareth Bale of Wales watches his team mates train during the official Wales training session on the eve of the World Cup Group B soccer match between USA and Wales , in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

DeAndre Yedlin, a 29-year-old defender, is the only survivor of the American team eliminated by Belgium in the second round eight years ago. Yedlin, Christian Pulisic, Kellyn Acosta and Tim Ream are the only four players who were in the squad when they failed to qualify for Russia.

England striker Harry Kane, mid, takes part in drills during England’s official training ahead of the Group B World Cup soccer match between England and Iran, at the Sports Complex Al Wakrah, in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Sunday, November 20, 2022 (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

OTHER GAMES

The first full day of competition also includes a Group B match between heavily favored England against Iran at Khalifa International Stadium, and the Netherlands against Senegal at Al Thumama Stadium in Group A.

A Qatar fan waves a flag ahead of the World Cup, Group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in Doha on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

England are one of the favorites and were semi-finalists four years ago in Russia, plus European runners-up last year. But the Three Lions have arrived in Qatar without a win in their last six games, hoping their strong record in recent major tournaments will transform the team.

ONE LOVE

Eight of the 13 team captains from European nations planned to wear “One Love” armbands promoting inclusivity and LGBTQ rights in Qatar, where same-sex relationships are banned.

Among those who had committed to the armbands are Bale and England striker Harry Kane.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo signs a shirt for Giuliana, a Brazil fan, as he arrives with the Portuguese team at Lisbon airport to depart for the World Cup in Qatar, Friday, November 18, 2022. (AP Photo /Armando Franca)

But FIFA equipment rules prohibit such armbands. The tournament rules require that “match staff must wear official clothing and equipment supplied by FIFA, including FIFA event badges specified and supplied by FIFA”.

If armbands are deemed inappropriate, players wearing them could be fined or given yellow cards.

Fans carry their beers in a fan zone ahead of the FIFA World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/)

The England team have indicated they are ready to be fined for wearing the armband, as has Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who said ‘yes’ when asked if he plans to. continue the silent protest.

In response, FIFA has launched its own captain’s armband, in conjunction with the United Nations, which will promote a different campaign for each round of the tournament. The theme for the quarter-finals is “no discrimination”. There is no indication that LGBTQ rights will be part of any of the campaigns.

Find out about the 32 teams that will participate in the World Cup.

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