Tag Archives: 2022 World Cup of Soccer

Qatar 2022: The Impending Triumph of the Ultimate G.O.A.T

By Sarafina Napoleon

Sarafina Napoleon is from Nigeria and is a first-year graduate student in Sport Administration at BGSU. As a journalist for 9 years, she brings a wealth of experience and insight to the Maxwell Media Watch.

November 4, 2022

The 2022 Winter World Cup will be Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s most significant World Cup competition, sixteen years after their 2006 debut in Germany. Both players are perhaps the greatest to have embellished the game of soccer, and it is challenging to comprehend this could be their final appearance at the World Cup.

They revolutionized the sport so drastically that calling them the greatest may not do them justice. There are some players you see on the field, and you know it was a pleasure to be alive during their era. Messi and Ronaldo were both born to play soccer; some consider Messi a product of talent, while others believe Ronaldo to be a product of hard work. Both players reshaped soccer, profoundly impacted a generation, broke records, and sparked the greatest soccer rivalry in history. There was an apparent rivalry at every level, from the club to the national team to individual awards.

For a decade, Messi and Ronaldo dominated all individual soccer awards, including the Ballon d’Or. At one point, it appeared that no one would ever challenge them. Every soccer fan sat back, witnessed, and relished every moment as they tested each other. At the same time, the rivalry transformed them into monsters of the sport, scoring a staggering number of goals. We witnessed discussions, comparisons, and statistical analysis week after week to prove one was superior to the other. Friends were pitted against friends, brothers against brothers, for one reason: Who is the better player?

The rivalry between these two grew beyond the pitch and manifested in corporate deals and endorsements. It amplified the rivalry between the two most prestigious sportswear brands in the world; Adidas and Nike. Since 2003, Nike has sponsored Ronaldo. In 2016, he became the third athlete in the brand’s history to receive a lifetime contract. On the other hand, Messi has been associated with Nike’s main rival, Adidas, since 2006 and signed a lifetime contract with the company in 2017, just like Ronaldo.

Except for one trophy considered the “holy grail” (world cup trophy) in elite soccer, they have nearly amassed everything there is to win in elite soccer. Every soccer player’s ultimate goal is to win the world cup, not just compete. The crescendo of competitive soccer is the World Cup. It is comparable to the European soccer club version of the Champions League. Despite their immense talent, Messi and Ronaldo have failed to help their nations win the trophy. The failure to win the world cup, according to some schools of thought, mars their illustrious careers. For others, winning the World Cup would solidify their place as the greatest of all time.

Diego Armando Maradona led the La Albiceleste to victory with the contentious “Hand of God” goal 36 years ago, which marked the last time Argentina won the World Cup. Under the leadership of Lionel Messi, there have been near misses. At the 2014 World Cup, the team’s talisman guided them to the Finals, where they fell to Germany on an extra-time goal from substitute Mario Gotze. The team also advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010 but was eliminated in the round of 16 in 2018.

Lionel Messi finally ended his international trophy drought at an elite level in 2021 when Argentina won the Copa America. The Argentine plays like a newborn and is in scintillating form as the World Cup approaches. In contrast to his struggles the previous year, Messi has been outstanding for his club, PSG, this season, scoring 11 goals in 16 appearances.

Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, is a serial winner. He played a crucial role in helping the Portuguese team win the 2016 Euros, the nation’s first victory in a major competition. However, Portugal has never won the World Cup; their best showing was third in 1966. They were eliminated in round 16 in 2018 and could not progress past the group stage at the 2014 World Cup. It is also interesting to note that Portugal qualified for the Winter World Cup via playoffs after being gobsmacked at home by Serbia, who topped the group. At the club level, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled ever since his second return to Manchester United. Under the new management of Erik Ten Hag, the Portuguese have been forced to accept a minor role. He could leave the team in January when the transfer window opens.

Given their ages, both players enter the Winter World Cup, aware of the significance of winning a trophy for their nation in 2022. They might not have another chance to redeem themselves if they don’t win the trophy in Qatar because the next World Cup is taking place in 2026. By that time, Messi and Ronaldo will be 39 and 41, respectively.

We live in an uncertain world, and only a soothsayer can predict what will happen in four years. Still, one thing is sure: Messi and Ronaldo will be in Qatar in a couple of weeks. Will either player be inspired to greatness by the desire to win the World Cup, or will the World Cup heartbreak continue?

Who will rule supreme on December 18, 2022?

Qatar 2022: Where Money Prevailed Over Logic

By Sarafina Napoleon

Sarafina Napoleon is from Nigeria and is a first-year graduate student in Sport Administration at BGSU. As a journalist for 9 years, she brings a wealth of experience and insight to the Maxwell Media Watch.

October 25, 2022

As the 22nd FIFA World Cup tournament approaches, the error made by FIFA under Sepp Blatter in choosing Qatar as the host nation is becoming more apparent. It is a decision that reeks of financial gains without adequate consideration of other factors. So how did we arrive at this point? It is pertinent to note that Qatar won the bid competition over Australia, the United States, Japan, and South Korea. Before Qatar won the bid, the country had never hosted a World Cup, making them the first Middle Eastern state to be awarded World Cup hosting rights. This will be the tournament’s second appearance in an Asian confederation country after Japan, and South Korea co-hosted in 2002. So, if staging the tournament in a new location provided an opportunity to develop the world, why the outrage?

There are several compelling reasons why Qatar shouldn’t be hosting the World Cup. The decision was flawed from the beginning from all angles. One convincing reason is the climate condition in Qatar. The climate in Qatar during the summer is uncongenial due to the scorching desert heat, making it impossible to stage a one-month tournament under such conditions. What was the solution? Your hunch is as good as mine. The only viable option was to relocate the tournament to a less inimical period. The usual schedule of World Cup tournaments’ is during the summer when all European leagues and league play have concluded. It was an aberration of everything the competition stands for to shift the World Cup to a time frame outside the established format. Still, the world football governing body (FIFA) was unperturbed.   The tournament was eventually rescheduled without thoroughly examining how the timing would affect the soccer calendar, making it the first World Cup in the Winter. This is where things get interesting; the typical soccer league season runs from August to May, allowing players at least a three-week rest period before the World Cup. Staging the tournament during the Winter meant the tournament would take place during the regular league season. Because the competition will be in the Winter, it will take place during the regular league season. Many players competing at the World Cup play in Europe. They compete in their respective local leagues, UEFA competitions, and league cup competitions.

So, how about the players’ well-being?

What about LGBTQ peoples’ rights? The decision to award the hosting rights to Qatar, a nation where homosexuality is illegal, has further demonstrated that FIFA’s commitment to inclusivity is little more than a façade. Since Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, FIFA has faced backlashed for its laws and views on LGBTQ rights and issues. After Russia hosted in 2018, this is the second World Cup in which LGBTQ soccer fans must decide whether or not to visit a country with a dismal record on gay rights. For instance, the official LGBTQ group of Wales will not attend the World Cup. Members of the group feel it is unsafe to visit the Middle East, given its track record on gay rights. In April, a senior Interior Ministry official in charge of security for the football tournament, Major General Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ansari, told the Associated Press that rainbow flags might be confiscated from visiting fans to keep them safe from being attacked while advocating for gay rights.

According to a recent survey by a Scandinavian media organization, three of the 69 hotels on FIFA’s official list of recommended accommodations would refuse entry to same-sex couples. Only 33 of those surveyed said they had no objections to same-sex booking relationships. In contrast, 20 others stated they would accommodate same-sex couples as long as the couples hid their sexual orientation from the public. FIFA retaliated by announcing that it would cancel any agreements with lodging establishments that discriminated against same-sex couples.

Considering what the Middle East stands for, many LGBTQ soccer fans will be reluctant to attend this year’s showpiece. Looking at the highlighted reasons why Qatar was the wrong destination which FIFA should have chosen, the bigger question is, on what basis were they awarded the hosting rights?