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~ The Old Sachem ~ World Cup 2022

Bill Stewart The Old Sachem-2
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  The World Cup is underway finally in Qatar after many objections. The first objection was two years ago when it was decided to play in the late fall, rather than the usual summer spectacle. The ruling monarchs of FIFA agreed that a summer in Qatar with 85 degrees or higher temperature was not a good idea. The temperature would inhibit the players drastically.

  A controversy developed when the European teams threatened to wear yellow armbands to honor diversity; Qatar was not on that page. Some also wanted it to show affection for Ukraine. When FIFA officials told the group that there would be “severe consequences,” the teams fell back to only the team captains would wear the armbands, which the FIFA moguls and the Qatar government okayed. Then the day before the first game, the government told the teams that yellow armbands would not be allowed. So much for integrity.

  Another question was that Qatar imported workers to build the facilities and not only gave them very low wages, but also restricted their movement in the nation. There is also the speculation that Qatar was able to secure the games by bribing enough members of the FIFA organizing committee to agree to their request.

  After what is going on in the nation of Qatar and throughout the Mid-East, I do not imagine to see any of the other Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia, which could easily finance the games, but the area governments are much too against gay people and women to make the cut in the near future. A small amount of the players are gay, and this does not sit well with the Qatar government.

  But on to past highlights. Brazil is the leader in World Cup Championships with 5: 1958,1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. Brazil is followed by Germany and Italy with 4, and Argentina, France, and the inaugural winner, Uruguay. France is the reigning champion from 2018.

  The leading all-time scorer for the World Cup is German Miroslav Klose with 16 in 24 games. He had a hat trick (3 goals scored, for those who are not familiar with the term) at the 2002 games in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, which I visited often during my two years in Hokkaido, Japan. This is followed by Ronaldo, who has scored 15 for Brazil, and Gerd Muller of Germany, who has scored 14. The trophy for most goals scored in that year, which is known as the Golden Boot Award, includes Klose (2006), Renaldo (2002) and Muller (1970).

  The tourney started with eight groups of four teams, which play each team in their group, and the top two from each group advance to the next level, a group of 16.

  I write this on Sunday evening as the teams have a third game to complete there, so I am not sure of the final results. Group A has Ecuador and Netherlands with 4 points each, and they will both advance with wins. Senegal plays Ecuador and needs a win to advance. Group B will see England advance, and the United States must beat Iran to reach the next level. In Group C, Poland will advance with a win or tie, and Argentina must beat them to advance, and Saudi Arabia looks to survive. In Group D, France is the first team to qualify for the next level, and Denmark must defeat Australia, or the Aussies advance. Group E has Spain with 4 points against Japan with 3, and Costa Rica with 3 must win or tie against Germany. Group F has Croatia and Morocco with 1 point and Belgium (with 3) plays Croatia. Morocco plays Canada, which should get Morocco to the next level. Brazil and Switzerland will probably advance although Serbia has an outside chance. In Group H, Portugal and Uruguay are almost certain to advance.

  I am looking forward to the games on Monday through Friday to see what teams make the round of 16, so I can list my picks from the 16.

  (Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports.)

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