The World Cup is our greatest sporting event after the Olympics. It’s usually played in May/June and often an excuse for a few days off work or last-minute purchases of giant TVs.
This year it’s in a very hot Qatar just before Christmas, but the weather’s not the only problem. The tournament’s mired in controversy with major sponsors Budweiser banned from selling their beer outside stadiums just before it started, and Harry Kane prevented from wearing his One Love armband.
My Tory colleague, Solihull MP Julian Knight, has criticised Gary Lineker for being woke, which used to mean being alert to racism but now seems to mean any view not supported by right-wing commentators or politicians.
The Iranians are demanding Jurgen Klinsmann’s head for accusing them of cheating and Qatar’s no place to show support for the LGBT+ community.
It’s hard to focus on football with all this happening but England got off to a flier with a 6-2 thrashing of Iran. Wales put in a decent shift against USA to earn a draw but then collapsed to Iran while England struggled against a more able American side than was expected. They looked far better when a certain Jack Grealish came on.
By the time you read this Wales and England will both have had their fates determined by meeting in their final group game and the USA and Iran will be hoping football rather than diplomatic incidents made the news.
Birmingham is well represented at this World Cup with four Villa players, including Martinez and Cash, and two Blues stars, Bielik and Mejbri. In fact, there are 26 players from across the English Championship which probably says something about the strength of that league.
I wouldn’t have given Qatar the World Cup but even I’m fed up with the politics and would settle for some good old-fashioned footie that would allow me to cheer, spill my beer and shout at the telly. Come to think of it the Lionesses could teach these guys a thing or two.
Photo Credit: History of Soccer