Bloomberg — Qatar’s World Cup ended in dramatic fashion after a penalty shootout — and Lionel Messi’s Argentina is taking the trophy home for the first time in 36 years.
The month-long tournament concluded Sunday with one of the most gripping finals in tournament history. Emiliano Martinez saved two spotkicks and Gonzalo Montiel scored the decisive penalty, sparking mass celebrations from the albiceleste for their third World Cup title.
Argentina let slip a two-goal lead late in the second half of regulation time at Lusail Stadium as France’s Kylian Mbappe netted twice. Messi and Mbappe each scored in extra time to make it 3-3.
FIFA’s flagship event is often a hectic affair, and the 2022 edition didn’t disappoint, boasting headlines from a beer ban to historic football upsets. Here’s a wrap of events:
Authorities in Doha reversed a promise to permit alcohol sales in stadiums, announcing just days before the start of the tournament that booze would only be available at concession stands away from the action and in VIP seating.
The move drew criticism from football fans and chants of “We want beer” from the tribunes, while alcohol sponsor Anheuser-Busch InBev NV pledged to donate its unsold suds to fans from the winning country. Still, the ban was brushed off by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who defended Qatar’s decision by saying fans “will survive” not consuming beer for three hours.
Even before the ban, the tournament had been beset with controversies, ranging from the need to reschedule the tournament — traditionally held in the summer — due to Qatar’s desert heat to the Gulf state’s treatment of migrant workers.
FIFA shot down some players’ plans to wear rainbow armbands during matches in solidarity with LGBTQ communities in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
Germany’s team instead posted a photo of its players covering their mouths and a statement on their position, saying: “Denying us the armband is the same as denying us a voice.”
Energy-rich Qatar, with a population of about 3 million, spent an estimated $300 billion on the event, dwarfing previous spending records.
The lavish spending on infrastructure and stadiums triggered accusations of so-called sportswashing that claimed Qatar was using the most-watched event in the world to improve its reputation. Still, it is FIFA that might reap the biggest benefits from all the hype; the organization said Friday it will earn $1 billion more than expected from this four-year World Cup cycle.
On the Pitch Upsets
From Saudi Arabia’s historic win over Argentina to Japan’s victory over Germany, the World Cup featured many underdogs beating the odds. The biggest surprise was the magic run of Morocco, which beat football powerhouses Spain, Portugal and Belgium to become the first African team ever to advance to the semifinals.
Morocco ended up losing to Croatia on Dec. 17 for the third place match where more than 44,000 onlookers watched.
The World Cup expanded its audience beyond traditional football-loving nations in Europe and Latin America to enjoy a surge of watchers in the US and Asia. The match on Nov. 25 between the US and England broke a ratings record for the sport on American television.
Squads from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa — regions that have long been on the sidelines of World Cup glory — together accounted for a higher share of goals than ever before.
Despite the slew of controversies during the first-ever World Cup held in a Middle Eastern country, all eyes on Sunday were on the match between France and Argentina. Whether or not Qatar will get a return on its vast investment was, at least for a day, of secondary importance to who won the trophy.
--With assistance from Yousef Gamal El-Din and Sam Kim
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