* Early figures suggest FIFA World Cup is as popular as ever* France’s opening match attracts best audience of the yearThe FIFA World Cup is proving as popular as ever around the world with preliminary figures for the opening match of the 2022 tournament in Qatar showing an increase in viewers compared to the corresponding match in Russia four years ago, FIFA has said in a statement.For example, the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador on November 20 was watched by an average of 3.3mn viewers, with a peak audience of 3.6mn, in Ecuador. This represented a 109% increase in viewership of the opening game in the country compared to the highest rating in the last two editions of the FIFA World Cup.In addition, in Brazil attracted an audience share - the percentage of people watching at the time - of 50% on TV Globo. The average audience for the game of 24.36 million was 6% higher than for the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, which was aired on the same channel (22.86mn viewers).Meanwhile, in Colombia, the viewing audience of 5.5mn, with a peak of 6.3mn, on Caracol TV was better than any of the six previous World Cup opening games and represented an audience share of 62.7%.European audiences were also higher than for the opening game in Russia.In the United Kingdom, BBC1's coverage of the game attracted an average audience of 6.25mn viewers, representing a 57.5% increase on the opening match of the previous World Cup, and an audience share of 47.1%.In France, where TF1 broadcast the game, the audience of 5.05mn was more than 30% up to the opening match in 2018 (3.83mn viewers). Live coverage of the opening ceremony was watched by an average of 4.18mn viewers, outperforming the rugby union international between France and Japan which was aired at the same time.In Italy, the opening match attracted the highest TV audience of the day - an average of 4.66mn viewers (audience share 29.5%) and a significant increase on 2018 when 3.59mn viewers watched the opening match. In Spain, the audience was 13% higher than four years ago.The broadcast of the Netherlands vs Senegal match on November 21 attracted a share of 74.5% for Dutch broadcaster NPO1, and the audience of 4.16mn was higher than any programme for the month of October, and the highest of the day.Wales’s first appearance in the FIFA World Cup since 1958 was broadcast in English on ITV across the UK and in Welsh on S4C in Wales. The match against the United States attracted strong audiences with an audience of 7.8mn, with a peak of 12.5mn, in the UK, whilst taking an audience share of 43% within Wales.French broadcaster TF1 had the highest audience of the year, 12.53mn, with a peak of 14mn, and an audience share of 48.1%, watched the world champions begin the defence of their title with a 4-1 win over Australia.
Aisha Tanvir is proudly supporting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as one of 250 accessibility volunteers.Born in the UAE to Indian parents, Aisha attended Bristol University in the UK and works as a senior English writer at Qatar Foundation (QF).The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy caught up with Aisha to discuss her role and the legacy the tournament will deliver.What convinced you to become a Qatar 2022 volunteer?It was Qatar’s commitment to hosting an accessible World Cup. In my interview, I was very clear that the only area I was interested in volunteering was accessibility. At QF, we have the Ability-Friendly Programme – an initiative that supports people of all abilities to engage in sporting and developmental activities. Volunteering for the programme was a huge eye-opener for me – it made me realise how inaccessible the simplest of things can be for people with disabilities and how unfair that is. It also encouraged me to seek ways to make a difference – and what better way than being an accessibility volunteer at the World Cup here in Qatar.How has your volunteer experience been so far?We are a group of around 250 accessibility volunteers and our induction, training and briefings have all been great – we have all learned a great deal about accessibility and are keen to play our part in ensuring an incredible experience for fans and visitors.Qatar is already a multicultural and cosmopolitan country, but through the volunteer programme it has been wonderful to interact with so many people from different walks of life. The team I am volunteering with includes a speech therapist, a child life specialist, a professor of public policy and law, and an assistive technology expert, making it a truly unique and memorable experience.Organisers are determined this tournament will leave a lasting legacy – what do you think that will look like?One of the great things about this tournament is that we are already seeing the legacy. Accessibility is one area that has benefitted massively – including transport infrastructure and access to facilities, such as stadiums and entertainment areas.Another prime example is the Accessibility Guide that QF has developed. Packed with over 30 attractions and experiences, the guide has been created to help people of all abilities – residents and visitors alike – enjoy Qatar and all it has to offer. On a more individual level, I think the push around accessibility has, perhaps for the first time, allowed a significant proportion of the non-disabled community to become aware of issues like social equity, social justice and access for all. Even if just our group of 250 accessibility volunteers can take what we have learned beyond the World Cup and actively contribute towards a more inclusive and accessible future, it can undoubtedly make a difference.Another legacy for me personally is that the World Cup has helped me to become more socially responsible and given me a more inclusive mindset. It is wonderful to see that accessibility will be a key legacy for the tournament – everyone has the opportunity to benefit from this amazing event.Finally, which team will you be supporting during the tournament?Qatar is my home from home, so I’ll be supporting the host nation.
The FIFA World Cup is proving as popular as ever around the world with preliminary figures for the opening match of the 2022 tournament in Qatar showing an increase in viewers compared to the corresponding match in Russia four years ago.* Opening match attracts more viewers than the same match four years ago, figures show* Half of viewing audience in Brazil watch Qatar versus Ecuador* France’s opening match attracts best audience of the yearFor example, the opening game between Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday, 20 November was watched by an average of 3.3 million viewers, with a peak audience of 3.6 million, in Ecuador. This represented a 109% increase in viewership of the opening game in the country compared to the highest rating in the last 2 editions of the FIFA World Cup.In addition, in Brazil attracted an audience share - the percentage of people watching at the time - of 50% on TV Globo. The average audience for the game of 24.36 million was 6% higher than for the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia, which was aired on the same channel (22.86 million viewers).Meanwhile, in Colombia, the viewing audience of 5.5 million, with a peak of 6.3 million, on Caracol TV was better than any of the six previous World Cup opening games and represented an audience share of 62.7%.European audiences were also higher than for the opening game in Russia.In the United Kingdom, BBC1's coverage of the game attracted an average audience of 6.25 million viewers, representing a 57.5% increase on the opening match of the previous World Cup, and an audience share of 47.1%.In France, where TF1 broadcast the game, the audience of 5.05 million was more than 30% up to the opening match in 2018 (3.83 million viewers). Live coverage of the opening ceremony was watched by an average of 4.18 million viewers, outperforming the rugby union international between France and Japan which was aired at the same time.In Italy, the opening match attracted the highest TV audience of the day -- an average of 4.66 million viewers (audience share 29.5%) and a significant increase on 2018 when 3.59 million viewers watched the opening match. In Spain, the audience was 13% higher than four years ago.The broadcast of the Netherlands v Senegal match on Monday 21 November attracted a share of 74.5% for Dutch broadcaster NPO1 and the audience of 4.16 million was higher than any programme for the month of October, and the highest of the day.Wales’s first appearance in the FIFA World Cup since 1958 was broadcast in English on ITV across the UK and in Welsh on S4C in Wales. The match against the United States attracted strong audiences with an audience of 7.8 million, with a peak of 12.5 million, in the UK, whilst taking an audience share of 43% within Wales.French broadcaster TF1 had the highest audience of the year, 12.53 million, with a peak of 14 million, and an audience share of 48.1 percent, watched the world champions begin the defence of their title with a 4-1 win over Australia.
Croatia’s World Cup campaign got off to a stuttering start with a 0-0 draw against a battling Morocco yesterday as the 2018 runners-up lacked the punch and guile of the side that went so close in Russia.Chances were at a premium at Al Bayt Stadium as an even Group F contest produced little goalmouth action and ended in the third goalless draw in nine games at the World Cup so far.There were glimpses for both sides, with Nikola Vlasic going close for Croatia at the end of the first half while Noussair Mazraoui had a header saved for Morocco, but nobody could find the breakthrough as the mercury soared on an energy-sapping afternoon.Croatia, who were beaten 4-2 by France in the final four years ago, will now turn their attentions to their game against Canada on Sunday, when Morocco will face Belgium.Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic was far from downcast with how his side had performed, with his only criticism that they lacked bravery to take more of the fight to their opponents.“We were very cautious not to make a mistake and were a bit indecisive,” he said. “I might say a bit of courage was missing on our side... but today Croatia had control and possession but not enough opportunities.”Croatia’s best moments predictably hinged on Luka Modric, who was given the freedom of the park, floating effortlessly from back to front, with football’s traditional midfield roles seeming not to apply to Croatia’s captain. One minute he was patrolling in front of his back four, the next hanging off the shoulder of Andrej Kramaric up front, but always looking to open up the North Africans, whether he was hovering at right back or hunting further forward.Morocco coach Walid Regragui was over the moon that his side had prevented the Croatian schemer from wreaking too much havoc. “Modric was unbelievable, what a player,” he said before declaring his satisfaction with a draw against Croatia, who he described as “one of the best teams in the competition.”Yet this Croatia performance lacked the cut and thrust of the team four years ago, which also boasted the talents of the now-retired Mario Mandzukic up front and midfielder Ivan Rakitic, who has called time on his international career.Morocco looked principally to Hakim Ziyech for inspiration and the Chelsea winger, recalled to the squad following Regragui’s appointment, was their most dangerous attacking outlet in the early stages, although his good work lacked an end product.While the encounter was low on action it was at least high on intensity, as both sides battled for midfield supremacy, but the first half ended with neither goal really threatened until the closing moments when Vlasic’s low effort was saved by Yassine Bounou.Borna Sosa’s cross to the near post found Vlasic, who poked out a leg to steer it towards goal, but he couldn’t beat Bounou. There was more action in the first five minutes of the second half when Morocco had raucous appeals for a penalty waved away after Sofiane Boufal’s shot appeared to hit Dejan Lovren’s arm, seconds before Mazraoui’s header was saved by Dominik Livakovic.Moments later, Lovren’s effort on the slide at the other end was blocked by Sofyan Amrabat, but that was about as good as it got for Croatia until centre back Josko Gvardiol’s header went wide in the 80th minute. Morocco were perhaps the better side in the second half, but for all their efforts their only other chance of note was Achraf Hakimi’s swerving shot from distance that was punched away by Livakovic.The two sides are likely to be happy with a point from a match in which there really was nothing to separate them, with both having seven attempts at goal and just two on target.
South Korea’s Son Heung-min will be able to play with a mask in their World Cup Group H opener against Uruguay today, coach Paulo Bento said as the talismanic forward returns from a surgical procedure to stabilise a fracture around his left eye.Son was injured midway through Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League tie at Olympique de Marseille earlier this month and there were doubts the 30-year-old would be fit in time for the World Cup group stage.“Sonny will be able to play,” Bento assured reporters yesterday. “I think the fact that he will be wearing a mask is not an inconvenience for him, it’s quite natural for him. We stuck with the plan when we arrived here... But we will see tomorrow how it will be. Our hope is that he will be comfortable to the greatest extent possible and use the best strategy so that he can feel at ease during the game. He knows and we know that after his injury we cannot take any risks.”Bento confirmed that Wolverhampton Wanderers forward Hwang Hee-chan had not recovered in time for the game while the team will take a late call on defender Kim Jin-su. South Korea have failed to replicate their magical run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals in recent tournaments and Bento said he would not burden them with the aim of qualifying for the knockout stages, taking things “one match at a time” instead.“Our aspirations is something we conveyed, we wish to compete in the best manner possible in the three group games,” he said. “We are well aware that we will face many difficulties with rivals we play against and we’re aware that in the history of World Cups, South Korea only advanced to knockouts twice – one of them when they were co-hosts with Japan. I don’t see any reason to put any pressure on their shoulders. If this was a team that always advanced, then I would say, ‘Yes, we need to qualify (for the next stage)’.”Midfielder Jung Woo-young, one of the most experienced players in South Korea’s World Cup squad, said set pieces would be one of their “biggest weapons” and brushed aside concerns that Uruguay’s taller players would have an advantage.“Set pieces are very important to determine the outcome of the match, so this will be a big advantage for us,” said the 32-year-old, who plays for Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League.“We have an excellent kicker in our team and we have players that are physically equipped. We also have tall players, so we’re not worried about the height. It is not a determining factor in football, so this doesn’t bother us.”
The public transportation continues to impress the fans with effective operations around the clock with the highly trained team while serving stadiums, airports and tourism destinations with the buses, metro, tram and taxis. The Ministry of Transport (MoT) on Wednesday tweeted that Doha Metro and trams at Lusail, Education City and Msheireb handled 2,294,604 passengers after the World Cup began. A total of 674,172 passengers were transported by both the Metro and Tram on Tuesday. On Tuesday, a total of 9,662 passengers used the Msheireb Tram and the Education City Tram while exploring Doha and visiting various spots.MoT said 3365 air movements have been recorded at both Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport (DIA) since the World Cup began on November 20. More than 900 air movements, according to MoT figures, were recorded at both HIA and DIA on Tuesday, the third day of the World Cup. Meanwhile, according to figures, released by Mowasalat (Karwa), 10,127 public bus trips transported 19,911 passengers on Tuesday. The operations were carried out with more than 2600 buses for transporting almost 146000 fans during the thor day of the tournament.Karwa has deployed vehicles that meet the transport needs of the fans arriving at Doha International Airport (DIA) and Hamad International Airport (HIA). Bus services to stadiums and other tourism places are available from the airports while Karaw has deployed an optimum number of taxis and limousines at the airports. Karwa on Tuesday transported fans from Saudi Arabia from Abu Samra border to Doha and Lusail Stadium where the Saudi national team faced Argentina in the first Group C match of the tournament.The company has intensified its operational preparations for the World Cup while mobilising its fleet with specialised technical teams to ensure a comfortable and smooth transportation experience for the tournament.About 4,000 buses will be operated during the tournament, of which about 3,000 are dedicated to transporting fans, including more than 800 fully electric buses that operate with zero carbon emissions.
Former Asian champions Japan Wednesday produced a stunning upset by beating four-time World Cup winners Germany 2-1 while European giants Spain hit Costa Rica for seven goals in a one-sided match at Al Thumama Stadium.Trailing by a goal at the end of the first half, a resilient Japan picked up the pieces in dramatic fashion late in the second half when substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano found the net only eight minutes apart in their Group E clash under lights at the iconic Khalifa International Stadium (KIS).A day before their opening FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match against Germany, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu candidly admitted that his players have improved their game looking at German players. A total of eight players in the current squad appear for Bundesliga clubs.After making five substitutes in their high-paced game against Germany, a delighted Moriyasu once again underlined the presence of his players in Germany."We have seven players in the Bundesliga and one in the German second division, but we have many more playing in big leagues in Europe and that has played a big part in our development," Moriyasu said after the intense clash played in front of 42,608 fans at KIS."Germany are a great team but I have to say our players stayed calm and patient for most part of the match," he added.Moriyasu said playing with aggression got them to rally after conceding a goal in the first half scored by Ilkay Gundogan (penalty, 33rd minute)."We wanted to start playing aggressively, we wanted to dominate the game. But Germany are very strong so we needed to defend persistently and take our chances," Moriyasu said.Appearing at a World Cup for the seventh successive time, Japan clearly looked the part Wednesday."It's a big surprise. We saw the Saudi victory over Argentina - the Asian countries are reaching the global standard," Moriyasu said.Wednesday's loss in the opening clash was a repeat of Russia 2018 when Germany - as defending champions - went down to Mexico before losing to South Korea on way to getting knocked at the first stage.Goalkeeper Shuchi Gonda who fought gallantly under the Japan crossbar said his team was inspired by Saudi Arabia's stunning win over Argentina on Tuesday."We knew that like Saudi Arabia, if they didn't score any more goals and we kept going until the end, we would get our chances," Gonda said. "Even if I concede one, my job is to make sure I don't concede any more and give us a chance of turning it around," he added.Big win for SpainAlso Wednesday, Spain - the 2010 World Cup winners - kept the scorers busy as Dani Olmo (11), Asensio (21), Ferran Torres (31-pen and 54), Gavi (74), Carlos Soler (90), Alvaro Morata (90+2) scored almost at will against hapless Costa Rica.It was Spain's biggest ever World Cup victory surpassing their 6-1 victory over Bulgaria in 1998. Coached by Luis Enqriue, Spain now take on Germany on Nov 27 at Al Bayt Stadium followed by a game against Japan on Dec 1 at the same venue."Our objective is to continuously dominate the play, and for that you have to have the ball," coach Enrique told TVE after the match. "Your opponent gets tired and can't get into it, our pressing was exceptional and the 16 players we used were superb - although we still have room to improve."Croatia-Morocco draw, Belgium winIn the day's other match, Croatia and Morocco played a goalless draw at Al Thumama Stadium while Belgium edged past Canada 1-0 at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Keeper Thibaut Courtois showed his class as Belgium made the most of Canada's woeful finishing to win their opening World Cup Group F game 1-0 thanks to a Michy Batshuayi goal on Wednesday.Courtois saved Alphonso Davies's weak early penalty and made a couple of other good saves as Canada pushed for their first goal at a World Cup on their return to the tournament for the first time since 1986.Belgium, without injured striker Romelu Lukaku, went ahead on the stroke of halftime courtesy of Batshuayi's half-volley from Toby Aldeweireld's long pass.Roberto Martinez's side, third at the 2018 World Cup, regained their composure after the break and held on to move top of the group on three points, two ahead of Croatia and Morocco who drew 0-0.
Vlogging and picture-taking with supporters of different participating teams at a tournament like the FIFA World Cup have become a universal language for many football fans.The opening of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on November 20 saw many residents and visitors enthusiastically joining supporters of opposing teams in revelries and other activities taking place at various locations in Doha.Just outside the Sports City metro station yesterday before the Japan v Germany match, supporters of both teams – clad in unique traditional and attractive costumes – enjoyed taking pictures together.“Everyone understands what it means when a stranger hands you his or her phone, joins your group for a picture... no need for words, and it feels great to see such as a lovely atmosphere,” said Lydia, a Filipino expatriate, who along with his family, supports the Japanese football team.Indian expatriate Arun echoed a similar view saying that such gesture only proves that sport, football in particular, builds a strong connection between people who speak different languages.While he supports the German football team, he only has nice words for the Japanese people, saying: “I love the people from Japan, they are very neat, respectful, and friendly.”His compatriot, Jerin Johny, also a German team supporter, share the same view as well, citing the Japanese people positive traits such as punctuality, cleanliness and courteousness – traits that other nationalities can learn from.This was highlighted in a viral video showing Japanese fans cleaning the Al Bayt Stadium after the tournament’s opening and first match between Qatar and Ecuador.“Japan, one of the best cleanest countries I ever seen and they are very down to earth, very polite,” Johny added.Miyu from Japan who spent time for picture-taking with both Japanese and German supporters lauded the organising of the World Cup in Qatar, citing an efficient transportation system.She said: “people are very kind, the metro is very good, Arabic food is tasty, and the tournament is well organised.”Another Japanese national, Taka, along with a group of friends, also took time for videos and picture-taking with supporters – families and bachelors – who were roaming around the venue.Asked about Qatar’s infrastructures, he said he was overwhelmed and described the stadiums as “incredible, fashionable and amazing”.He plans to visit some museums and tourist spots in Qatar.Some German supporters, with German flags painted on their faces, were also seen cheering for Japan, chanting some familiar Japanese words such as konichiwa and arigatou gozaimasu.
The 'FIFA Qatar 2022 for All: Sharing the Joy of Refugees and Displaced Persons' initiative launched by Qatar has been praised by governmental and local authorities in many countries where Qatar Charity (QC) is supervising its implementation in co-operation with its partners.The initiative, launched in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, aims to share the joy with refugees and the displaced inside the camps and allow them to watch the matches and enjoy the various World Cup activities in the camps of six countries: Jordan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia, (northern) Syria and Kenya.* SomaliaIn the Shbilli camp, the largest camp for the displaced in Somalia, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Sports and Youth in Najal region, Saeed Hassan, shared with the displaced the joy of inaugurating the fans' area. On the sidelines of his participation, he said: "We came here to share the joy of the displaced and refugees watching the World Cup, and I hope that this event will be a starting point for social cohesion and cohesion among the camp's residents, adding that holding this great event in Qatar is a source of pride for Muslims and Arabs."Abdul Karim Adam Hussein, Social Affairs officer at the Municipality of Jarowi, said: "This event contributes to improving the psychological state of thedrought-affected displaced people in the local community, and enhancing social care for them throughout the event, which lasts an entire month."* Syrian interiorIn northern Syria, fans' areas in Al-Kaiba camp in the Al-Rai area had a remarkable presence of the displaced, with the participation of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management co-ordinator (AFAD) in the city of Al-Rai, Niazi Demir, who expressed his thanks to Qatar and QC for this initiative.He said, "This tent has a great impact, as more than 2,000 people live in the camp, who are unable to participate or hold any social event. Thanks to Qatar, and this tent, this camp has become a special place to watch the events of the 2022 World Cup and enjoy watching its matches."* BangladeshIn the Bhasan Char camp, more than 6,000 Rohingya refugees, in addition to orphaned children sponsored by Qatar Charity in Bangladesh, enjoyed watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup matches. The opening ceremony of the fans’ area in Bhasan Char camp was attended by many camp officials who expressed gratitude to Qatar and QC.Tariq al-Islam, a government official in the camp, said in his opening speech: “The effort of Qatar Charity and other organisations is commendable, and I hope the refugees will enjoy the event.”* Darfur. SudanIn Darfur, the fan zones were inaugurated in a sporting and cultural atmosphere with the participation of the displaced from camps (Abu Shouk, Zamzam and Abuja), in the presence of the Minister of Youth and Sports and several government officials in Darfur.Tajuddin Ibrahim al-Taher, commissioner for Voluntary Return and Resettlement in the Darfur states, thanked Qatar for this initiative and described the establishment of areas for fans as a brilliant gesture by the organisers, and it will have a great impact on displaced and citizens of North Darfur.In addition to Qatar Charity, several entities - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar Fund for Development, Qatar Red Crescent Society, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and beIN Sports - are participating in the organisation of the 'FIFA Qatar 2022 for All: Sharing the Joy of Refugees and Displaced' initiative.
Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday, their biggest ever winning margin at a World Cup, helped by two goals by Ferran Torres and strikes by five other players to send a resounding message to the rest of the teams in Qatar.Spain were mindful of the shock defeats suffered by Argentina and Group E rivals Germany against lower opposition in their opening matches and they tormented Costa Rica from the start, going 3-0 up after little more than 30 minutes.Dani Olmo got the goals flowing in the 11th minute when he exchanged passes with Gavi and chipped Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Ten minutes later, Marco Asensio timed a run into the box perfectly to connect powerfully with a Jordi Alba cross.Torres stroked home his penalty in the 31st minute and the Barcelona winger claimed his second in the 54th when he took advantage of hesitant defending. Gavi, the youngest player to represent Spain at a World Cup, struck with a perfectly hit volley in the 74th minute before substitutes Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata rounded off a totally one-sided encounter.
Qatar’s “amazing” preparations for the World Cup have caught the attention of Portugal fans and business community as they said “campaigns of criticism” against Doha are “very unfair”.“It’s has been a privilege to see how the country prepared so well to deliver an amazing Word Cup 2022,” Forum Portugal Qatar chairman Nuno Anahory told Gulf Times.he FIFA World Cup, for which preparations began 12 years ago, got off to a glittering start Tuesday at Al Bayt Stadium.Forum Portugal Qatar has been at the forefront in devising a strategic communication plan for the corporate and fans of Portugal to make the registration easier for the august soccer carnival, which will conclude on December 18.Travelling to Doha for the last 10 years, Anahory said he had the privilege of following all amazing preparations, new constructions, roads, building stadiums, sports and cultural facilities, with some works done by the Portuguese companies.“I want to congratulate FIFA for choosing Qatar as the host for this competition. This is a unique opportunity to gather different cultures, allow people to connect, speak, know more about each other’s cultures, and enjoy amazing stadiums on this beautiful Qatar,” he said, adding several Portugal fans are waiting in the wings to reach Doha.Portugal, which is in the H group, has its first match on Thursday against Ghana.“We are very confident that Portugal will make an amazing campaign in this World Cup, we do have outstanding players, and buoying a strong and competitive team, of course with an extra motivation from Cristiano Ronaldo,” Anahory said.On the campaigns against Qatar; he said from all the work that Qatar has been doing, and seeing now the readiness of all facilities “we have to say that these campaigns of criticism are very unfair, and I see that those media don’t even try to investigate on what is true and what is fake.”
FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Ecuadoran Football Association over chants by Ecuadoran fans during the opening game of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."The FIFA disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against the Ecuadoran Football Association due to chants by Ecuadoran supporters during the Qatar vs Ecuador FIFA World Cup match played on 20 November," it said in a statement.FIFA did not reveal what the chants were about but said it came under Article 13 of its disciplinary code, which penalises for "offending the dignity or integrity of a country, a person or a group with derogatory, discriminatory or insulting words".It is the first such disciplinary measure of the Qatar World Cup, which ends on 18 December.
Olivier Giroud joined Thierry Henry as France's all-time leading goalscorer with a brace as holders France recovered to beat Australia 4-1 and get their defence of the World Cup off to a winning start Tuesday.Australia took a shock lead at Al Janoub Stadium with the game just nine minutes old when Craig Goodwin scored.France, whose build-up to the tournament was marred by injuries, saw left-back Lucas Hernandez come off hurt in the move that led to that goal.However, they recovered to equalise through Adrien Rabiot before Giroud put them ahead with an easy finish in the 32nd minute for his 50th international goal.Kylian Mbappe got his name on the scoresheet in the second half and Giroud sealed the win to equal Henry's record tally of 51 goals for France.The win leaves them top of Group D after rivals Denmark and Tunisia drew 0-0 in Doha earlier.At the age of 36, veteran AC Milan striker Giroud, who has 115 caps, is the oldest player to score for France at a World Cup.Yet he almost certainly would not have been playing here had Karim Benzema been fit.Instead, the withdrawal of the Ballon d'Or winner with a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament has played into the hands of Giroud, who was a key player for coach Didier Deschamps in France's triumphant 2018 World Cup campaign but didn't score in Russia.It is not just Benzema who is missing for Les Bleus, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante -- their starting midfield duo four years ago -- also out of the tournament.Centre-back Raphael Varane was not risked having not played since suffering a leg injury playing for Manchester United a month ago.That meant Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate -- with nine caps between them -- played together in central defence while Rabiot joined Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield.Australia stunned the world champions by scoring an early opener.Mathew Leckie controlled the ball on the right and escaped Lucas Hernandez before delivering a low ball across the face of goal for Goodwin to finish into the roof of the net.Hernandez hurt his right knee trying to stop Leckie, although there did not appear to be any contact between the players.The Bayern Munich defender was helped off, with his brother Theo coming on.The younger Hernandez did not have the best introduction, giving the ball away and allowing Mitch Duke to hit a shot from range that flew just wide.Yet he played a part in the 27th-minute equaliser -- Antoine Griezmann's right-wing corner was cleared but the ball came to Hernandez on the left and his cross was headed in by Rabiot.Five minutes later Rabiot was involved again as France went ahead, hounding Nathaniel Atkinson out of possession on the French left and playing a one-two with Mbappe before teeing up Giroud.A Jackson Irvine header that hit the post in first-half stoppage time was a reminder that Australia could still threaten, but France ran away with the game after the break.Griezmann had a shot cleared off the line just before Mbappe made it 3-1 midway through the second half, as he headed in off a post from Ousmane Dembele's cross.Mbappe then turned provider as France got their fourth in the 71st minute, crossing for Giroud to head in a historic goal.After all the injuries, and after seeing what happened to Argentina earlier, this was a good evening for France.
Poland's Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty - and his chance to finally claim a World Cup tournament goal - in a 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday that left Saudi Arabia as the early leaders of Group C after their shock win over Argentina.Mexico played most of the attacking football in Stadium 974 but Poland won their penalty in the 56th minute when Hector Moreno pulled down Lewandowski only for the Polish captain to shoot too close to Guillermo Ochoa, who saved.Mexico brought on Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raul Jimenez as a substitute, capping his return from injury, but he failed to provide the breakthrough sought by coach Gerardo Martino.The draw left Saudi Arabia top of Group C with three points after they came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 earlier on Tuesday in one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.
A Polish family heaped praise on Qatar for the mellifluous handling of the World Cup, particularly for the Hayya Card system, and urged fans coming from across the world to take a deeper dive into Qatar’s nature and culture."My feedback about Hayya is positive, it is easy to acquire and use both online and in the physical form, and my friends didn’t experience any problems too," said Pawel Kulaga, vice chairman Qatar Poland Business Council.Flying back to Qatar from a business trip on the opening day, the situation at the Hamad International Airport (HIA) and in the Qatar Metro seemed well-managed, said Kulaga, who hope to see Poland meet Croatia in the final, which will be played on December 18.As many as 10,000 Polish fans are reportedly in Qatar to cheer for their country, which is in the Group C.Anna Kulaga, his wife, said the fan zones that Qatar has made for the World Cup offered more attractions."We live in Lusail Marina area next to the promenade, where I usually walk with our sons in the morning," she said, adding the city has been made beautiful and is truly up to the global expectations.About the criticisms levelled against Qatar, Pawel Kulaga indicated those would have its natural decay."I hope Qatar will show the world how friendly and interesting a country it is and the citizens and expats will be proud of what they achieved together," he said, adding it was not easy with all the construction works (during the construction phase), but the outcome is “amazing”.“Doha and the other cities are looking beautiful and I’m happy all of this will stay after the event to be enjoyed by residents of Qatar," he said.Highlighting that 10 years ago Poland along with Ukraine had organised the UEFA European Football Championship in 2012; he said it was a great struggle too and not everything worked as planned, but eventually, it was a great success for both nations and mostly the positive memories stayed."The Middle East and Arabia itself are fascinating places, so I would encourage fans coming to watch football, to take a deeper dive into Qatar’s nature and culture, to plan a visit to the inland sea, Zekreet or Old Souq Al Wakra, which personally are my favorite spots in the country," he said.Asked what is his prediction on the 2022 World Cup winner; he said "Poland has Robert Lewandowski so everything is possible. I’d like to watch the final match between Poland and Croatia, the country, where I like to spend holidays and which plays some really good football."
Substitute Andreas Cornelius hit the post and Denmark had a late penalty appeal turned down, while Tunisia wasted two clear chances in a 0-0 draw in their World Cup Group D opener at Education City Stadium on Tuesday.Tunisia were roared on by their sizeable following in the 42,925 crowd, whose deafening whistles and roars gave energy to their side and helped secure what had seemed an unlikely point before kickoff, despite the fact they are unbeaten in nine of their last 10 internationals.Denmark thought they should have had a penalty in stoppage time for handball that was checked at the VAR screen by referee Cesar Arturo Ramos, but he instead gave a free kick to Tunisia.Usually when a referee moves to the monitor to review a decision, he changes his mind, but Mexican Ramos stuck to his guns at a crucial moment in the game."We played too nervously and too slow, and we didn't find ourselves in the first half," Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand told DR. "There was a period when we got into it but we were never calm and comfortable, that came later in the game. There's no doubt we played under par."It (qualifying from the group) has become complicated but it's not over. We are underway with the tournament, but our heads would have been a little higher with a better result."Tunisia played with a tempo they will find hard to maintain through the group stages, but were good value for their point and showed a resilience that was pleasing for coach Jalel Kadri."The fan factor was very positive for us," he said. "It mentally gave us a great lift and we are looking forward to seeing the fans continue to do that for us."It really helped us in the game, but tactically and physically we did well too."Denmark would have hoped to create more chances, but their best came late in the second half when Cornelius only had to nod the ball over the line at the back post, but instead flicked it onto the woodwork.Tunisia, who this week had spoken of their pride at qualifying for World Cup in an Arab country, were fired up from the first whistle, celebrating each tackle like a goal, and had two excellent chances to open the scoring.The first fell to Denmark-based Issam Jebali when he found himself one-on-one with Kasper Schmeichel, but could not beat the Danish goalkeeper, who made an excellent, instinctive save.The second saw Aissa Laidouni race clear from his own half, but as he approached the Denmark penalty area, he hesitated and opted for a pass that was not on rather than advancing another 10 yards and having an effort on goal.In the context of the match, both might look at it as two points dropped, but Tunisia will certainly be the happier given the low level of expectation place on them - from outside their camp at least - going into the tournament.They will face Australia next on Saturday, a game they will have targeted as their most winnable in the group, while Denmark meet defending champions France behind the points tally they would have set themselves at this stage.There were other chances in the game as well. Tunisian right back Mohamed Drager saw his shot from 25-yards deflected off defender Andreas Christensen and go just wide with Schmeichel rooted to the spot.Christian Eriksen was pulling the strings for the Danes but they struggled at times to get him onto the ball. When he did find a pocket of space just outside the Tunisian box, his shot was well saved by goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen."It was important to come into the game with a lot of determination," Laidouni said. "This is the World Cup, it's the most important competition in the world."The fans in Qatar are amazing and it was important to show them that we are determined and we want to give everything."Hjulmand will be sweating on a knee injury to midfielder Thomas Delaney that forced him off in the first half.
Saudi Arabia sent the Arab world into a frenzy with a stunning comeback victory over tournament contenders Argentina at the FIFA World Cup Qatar at the imposing Lusail Stadium Tuesday.Superstar Lionel Messi and the thousands of Argentina fans were left shell- shocked as second-half goals from Saleh al-Shehri and Salem al-Dawsari helped Saudi to a 2-1 win in their Group C match in front of a record 88,012-record audience.It was a brave and brilliant performance from Saudi – ranked 51 in the world to Argentina’s third – as they silenced critics who have questioned the football culture in the Middle East. The Green Falcon’s victory Tuesday will rank as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history along with England's loss to the United States in 1950 and West Germany losing to Algeria in 1982.According to an analysis by Nielsen Gracenote, Saudi stood just 8.7% of registering a victory against two-time champions Argentina. But Tuesday, they ripped the predictions to pieces with a heroic second half show that kept their chance of reaching the last 16 for the first time since 1994 World Cup.King Salman bin Abdulaziz Salman declared a public holiday in Saudi Arabia today to mark the achievement, a feather in the cap of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who recommended the royal order, the state media said.Messi, playing his fifth and most likely last World Cup, stroked home an early penalty to give Argentina the lead in the 10th minute. But he was kept at bay by Saudi defenders for the rest of the half.Saudi then remerged with attacking intent in the second half as al-Shehri equalised in the 48th minute before al-Dawsari’s rocket gave them an unimaginable lead. Unlike Argentina's squad, which boasts players from top leagues in the world, the Saudi side is made up entirely of domestic players.Tuesday, Saudi XI had nine players from Al Hilal, with some lion-hearted performances from goalkeeper Mohamed al-Owais and Hassan al-Tambakti.Saudi's coach Herve Renard said the "stars were aligned" for his team. "We made history for football," he added. "It will stay forever, this is most important. But we also have to think about looking forward. We still have two difficult games before us."Goal-scorer al-Shehri said the team had never doubted they could topple the two-time champions. "We don't care about the other team, if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything," he said.Messi, who in Qatar is gunning for his only trophy missing from his illustrious career, called the result a "heavy blow" to his team. The 2021 Copa America champions Argentina had come into the match on a 36-match unbeaten streak. "It's a very heavy blow, a defeat that hurts, but we must continue to have confidence in ourselves," said Messi. "This group is not going to give up. We will try to beat Mexico."Argentina coach Lucas Scaloni insisted his team had not taken their opponents lightly. "What comes ahead is to rise up, to face Mexico," he said."They will be tough, as everyone is at the World Cup. Now we need to win two games to move on. Of course this is difficult, but regardless of the result today, we would anyway try to win all the games."Later, Poland played out a goalless draw with Mexico in the other Group C match, with Robert Lewandowski missing a second-half penalty. The Barcelona striker was denied a maiden World Cup goal when his 58th-minute spot-kick was saved by veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud became France's joint all-time top scorer when his double helped the holders start the defence of their World Cup title in style with a 4-1 comeback Group D win against Australia Tuesday.Giroud found the net before and after the break to take his tally to 51 goals, matching Thierry Henry's mark, either side of a Kylian Mbappe goal after Adrien Rabiot had levelled following Craig Goodwin's shock early opener.Les Bleus are the first defending champions to win their opening match since Brazil in 2006, which has already put them in good position to advance from the group phase, something Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018 failed to do.Denmark drew 0-0 with Tunisia in the other match in Group D, with talisman Christian Eriksen appearing in his first match in a major tournament since suffering a cardiac arrest during the European Championship last year.
England Monday crushed Iran 6-2 to launch their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 campaign on a positive note while the Netherlands struck late in the second half for a 2-0 win over African giants Senegal at Al Thumama Stadium.In the day's last match, USA struggled against Wales in their 1-1 draw at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.The day's best performance was seen at Khalifa International Stadium Monday where captain Harry Kane's England looked in little bother against an Iranian side that did not sing their national anthem because of anti-government protests back home.Jude Bellingham opened the scoring for England with a well-taken header in the 35th minute before Bukayo Saka (43) and Raheem Sterling (45+1) also found the net in the first half. Sakar scored his second of the match in the second half (62) three minutes before Mehdi Taremi reduced the deficit (65) for Iran who looked sluggish at the iconic Qatari sports venue.Manchester United star Marcus Rashford (71) and Jack Grealish (90) of Manchester City also scored for manager Gareth Southgate's young side. In the dying moments of the one-sided game, Taremi managed a late consolation goal from a penalty kick.Also Monday, Netherlands - coached by Louis van Gaal - were rescued by two second-half goals for a 2-0 win over Senegal coached by Aliou Cisse.Cody Gakpo produced a slick header (84th minute) before substitute Davy Klaassen added one more in injury time to lift Netherlands to win in their opening match at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.Gakpo, the 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven forward, headed the ball into the net following a cross from Frenkie de Jong. In injury time - that was stretched to 9 minutes - Klaassen made the most of a goalkeeper's gaffe inside the Senegal box to score his team's second goal with a drilled shot into the net.Senegal, who looked slugging up front, Monday desperately missed their ace striker Sadio Mane who was ruled out of the World Cup last week because of injury.With Monday's plucky win, Van Gaal's side has extended their unbeaten streak to 16 matches. Senegal, the African Cup of Nations winners, will now get ready for their second match against hosts Qatar on November 25.In the day's third match, Gregg Berhalter-coached USA drew 1-1 against Wales in their Group B clash. Tomothy Weah scored for USA in the 36th minute while Gareth Bale (82, penalty) equalized for Wales.Tuesday, football icon Lionel Messi will lead Argentina against regional giants Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium. Messi has already confirmed this will be the final World Cup of his illustrious career that has won him millions of fans around the world.Also Tuesday, Mexico will take on Poland at Stadium 974 while Denmark face Tunisia at Education City Stadium. In the day's final match Tuesday, defending champions France will face Australia at Al Janoub Stadium.
Wales' all-time top scorer and talisman Gareth Bale scored a late penalty as the Welsh rallied in the second half to secure a 1-1 draw with the United States in an enthralling World Cup Group B clash at a raucous Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday.It was the proverbial game of two halves as the US went into the break with a deserved 1-0 advantage handed to them following a superb finish by Timothy Weah, the son of former World Player of the Year and current Liberia president George.But a switch in tactics by Wales at the break to introduce target man forward Kieffer Moore changed the game and brought them back into the contest, allowing Bale to score the 82nd minute penalty he had earned after being fouled himself.The match was played in a fantastic atmosphere. Forget the valleys, the Welsh fans were drowning out Al Rayyan but met their match in the typically vocal United States supporters, whose drum barely stopped beating.Wales were fortunate not to be behind early on when Weah’s cross deflected off a helpless Joe Rodon and hit Wayne Hennessey with the Wales goalkeeper knowing little about it. Seconds later Antonee Robinson headed wide with a good near-post opportunity.The pattern of the first half was US possession and Wales trapped in their own half, unable to find an escape route without a recognised number nine to hold up the ball.Instead Bale and Dan James alternated down the middle with little joy and whenever Wales cleared the ball it came straight back. The pressure finally took its toll after 36 minutes.Christian Pulisic picked up the ball just inside the Welsh half and surged forward, spotting the clever run of Weah and providing a superbly weighted pass that was expertly finished by the winger as he slipped his shot past Hennessey.Wales manager Rob Page made the key change at halftime when he replaced the ineffective James with the tall and muscular Moore, who was exactly what they had been missing in the opening period. It was, suddenly, a different ball game.Wales were able to apply pressure at the other end and went close twice in quick succession. First Ben Davies forced a superb stop from goalkeeper Matt Turner before Moore headed the resultant corner just over with a chance he should have buried.Wales’ pressure paid dividends as they won a penalty when Tim Ream, already on a yellow card for a cynical challenge earlier in the half, went through the back of Bale, who made no mistake from the spot as he thrashed the ball wide of Turner.