The World Cup, in November?

PJ Stebbings, Sports Reporter

The world’s biggest party is back in full swing. The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been full of surprises from the start. 

Powerhouse teams such as Germany, Belgium and Uruguay went out in the first round. Teams like Senegal and South Korea have come out of nowhere as massive underdogs and have begun to make a run at the biggest prize in sports. 

The games have also been full of drama, with superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing in what is most likely their final World Cup and are attempting to add to their respective legacies.

This World Cup, which is being held in Qatar, is extremely unique in the fact that instead of being played in the summer, it is being held in the winter. Soccer officials in Qatar along with FIFA came to this ruling due to the insane heat and humidity that occurs in summer in Qatar. The thought was that moving the games to late November would make the conditions more favorable and make the players and fans more comfortable. 

The decision to move the event to November was not the only controversial decision made surrounding these games. 

About a week before matches began, Qatar officials ruled that alcoholic beverages would be banned, creating a major uproar from the fans. Soccer experts, media outlets and human rights organizations all have also expressed concerns about the selection process itself, citing Qatar’s record of human rights violations, the high cost of having the games in Qatar and alleged bribery in the World Cup bidding process.

Despite the many controversies, the matches themselves have exceeded expectations and have provided fans across the world with tremendous excitement. Qatar, who made their first ever appearance in a World Cup this year, kicked off the tournament against Ecuador, falling 2–0 in front of their home fans. 

The first major upset of the tournament came on the third day, where Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia 2–1. The underdogs stayed hot the entire group stage, with Japan beating Germany 2–1, Morocco beating Belgium 2–0, Tunisia beating France 1–0, Korea beating Portugal 2–1 and most surprising of all, Japan pulling off another upset beating Spain 2–1. 

FIFA’s World Cup is considered the pinnacle of soccer and the most prestigious event in the sport. Playing in the World Cup is a time when great players become legends and newcomers become superstars. 

Worldwide superstars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe have shined in this tournament, each scoring three goals so far. Newcomers Enner Valencia, Cody Gakpo, Alvaro Morata and Marcus Rashford have all used this tournament to make names for themselves as well, each scoring 3 goals a piece. 

As it stands now, France, Brazil and Argentina are the biggest favorites to win the World Cup outright, but as we have seen in all tournaments, unexpected things can and will happen. 

Brazil is dealing with a couple major injuries to star players Neymar Junior and Alex Sandro. France is dealing with a split in the locker room, affecting team chemistry. Argentina was beaten by the Saudi Arabia team, although the Argentines have responded well and played solid over the past few games. 

If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch the World Cup yet, you will want to catch up fast. Now that the group stage is finished, the tournament enters a 16-team single elimination playoff.

 If the game is tied after 90 minutes, a 30 minute overtime period is played. If the game remains tied still, a penalty shootout ensues. World Cup penalty shootouts are some of the highest drama in all of sports and are extremely exciting to watch live. 

The round of 16 begins on Dec. 3 and the quarter finals are scheduled for Dec. 9. If you haven’t tuned in to the world’s biggest party yet, there’s still time, and you won’t want to miss it.