Upsets and controversies

Western media has been up in arms about certain rules imposed by Qatari officials

November 24, 2022

Football fans around the world have witnessed one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history after Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2-1 in the first match of Group C. This is indeed a shock as Argentina were considered favourites and had entered the prestigious tournament with a 36-match winning streak — two less than Italy’s all-time record of 38 consecutive wins. The defeat may have also dented Messi’s final hope of winning a World Cup.

A high defensive line played by Saudi Arabia caught the Argentinian players off guard, causing three goals to be disallowed on offside in a span of 13 minutes. In the second half, Saudi players showed off their determination and toughness as they used the initial World Cup adrenaline to score two crafty goals to secure the win. The match, however, has raised questions regarding the use of VAR and goal line technology in football, with many claiming that such strict use of technology makes on-field referees useless and removes any contingency that occurs in games.

But this isn’t the only controversy that has shrouded the World Cup. The Western media has been up in arms about certain rules imposed by Qatari officials — such as banning a host of non-religious activities — while also accusing them of human rights abuses on migrant workers. The Guardian has claimed that 6,500 migrant labourers have died while working to make the World Cup a reality in Qatar. While such abuses cannot be undermined, hypocrisy has been the order of the day for the West who have been unable to swallow the fact that Fifa allowed an Arab and Muslim-majority country to host the World Cup for the first time in history.

The World Cup should be a stage where different cultures of the world get to experience and understand each other, not cause more divisions. The first few matches have shown that this World Cup will be fraught with historic wins and major setbacks, making for a thrilling tournament. Let us keep our differences aside and enjoy the game of football.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2022.

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