Now the group stages are over and the round of 16 is in full swing, PENALTY round up the latest happenings on and off the pitch in Qatar.
There have been many upsets in the group stages this year, nothing quite as upsetting as the general feeling of dread around this harrowing World Cup mind. Big hitters Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark all crashed out of the competition prematurely. More dramatically, news broke that the Danish national team are considering leaving FIFA altogether. Having been one of the most vocal national teams to voice their opinion regarding the corruption at the most influential organisation in world football, it is perhaps no surprise the relationship has been strained. Whether it will actually happen is another question, but there’s sure to be other developments as they consult with members of UEFA.
The Danes’ concerns with the Qatari state feels even more relevant with England’s two most historic clubs now looking for new buyers. Man Utd. and Liverpool are supposedly (and unsurprisingly) sparking interest from the Middle East, in what would be the final nail in the coffin of the ever-decreasing sanctity of the PL. Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that though.
Back to International delights, and a confirmed Nice Team, Japan, have warmed hearts with their off field politeness and on-field directness. Fast and electric sums up their style, but not the gracious manner in which fans tidied up litter and players cleaned their dressing room. Lovely stuff. If only Japan had made a bid to host this World Cup…oh, wait.
Speaking of nice guys, our friend Shameek has launched a midweek version of The Goal Posts League, which empowers women and non-binary people and champions inclusivity. Read more about it over here. In a similar vein, the lovely people at Art of Football are still flogging their gorgeous For All scarf, which donates the full price to Football vs Homophobia – buy it here.
From scarfs to laughs, Scott Carson’s faux England call-up provided some comic relief from the intensity of the tournament. Tears of joy were also shed by Lewandowski as the big man finally bagged a WC goal. It has also been nice to see Messi perform well for Argentina, as his footballing ability is almost enough to completely transport one from the wider context of this tournament.
Another positive comes from ITV as they were the first broadcaster to use an all-female panel during a men’s World Cup game. A welcome relief from the increasingly tiresome sparring between the performatively grumpy Souness and Keane. This felt particularly timely given Corbin Shaw’s recent and impactful campaign with Women’s Aid that highlighted the horrifying domestic abuse statistics that occur during England games. The He’s Coming Home spot can be viewed here:
Stay tuned for the next round up after the quarters..