Are you ready for some futbol?
Ready or not, soccer is about to transfix the globe. Live from Qatar, it’s the World Cup!
That may sound strange considering Qatar has about as much soccer history as Chattahoochee. The World Cup is also usually played in the summer, not smack-dab in the middle of the NFL season.
Then there’s specter of fans getting jailed for talking trash or having a keg of beer at their tailgate party.
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All that might leave the casual U.S. sports fan with a few questions about the big event. Here are some answers you might be looking for.
Why should you watch?
If you know who Vini Jr. is, the answer is obvious. If you don’t, tune in to perhaps discover what 5 billion other Earthlings find so enchanting about soccer. That’s how many people are expected to watch at least part of the three-week tournament. Not even “Yellowstone” can top that.
Does the U.S. have a chance to win?
Only if half the field gets jailed for wearing rainbow armbands. The U.S. has the youngest team in the 32-team field. Our lads are capable of pulling a couple of upsets, but success would be advancing out of group play and into the final 16.
Why would players wear rspaninbow spanrmbspannds?
To protest Qatar’s LGBTQ policies and overall human rights record, which are not exactly woke.
How un-woke are they?
Homosexuality will get you seven years in prison. Women who are sexually assaulted get prosecuted for adultery. Many politicians, celebrities and soccer aficionados are boycotting the event.
“Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake,” wrote Philipp Lahm, who led Germany to the 2014 championship. “It does not belong there.”
So why is it there?
Qatar, which is about the size of Connecticut, decided the World Cup would be a good way to show it’s more than just a theocratic oil refinery. So it pumped 220 billion petrodollars into staging the event – at least 10% was spent on bribing the FIFA 2022 site selection committee.
You mean FIFA is corrupt?
Is it hot in the desert?
Just how hot is Qatar?
The average temperature in July is about 217 degrees, which is why this is the first World Cup Holiday Edition. It’s still about 80 degrees this time of year, so the Qataris built seven air-conditioned stadiums. Hundreds of migrant construction workers were reportedly killed in the process, but at least FIFA officials won’t perspire while watching Denmark take on Tunisia.
Can fans enjoy a cold beer?
Alcohol is banned just about everywhere in Qatar, but officials are allowing limited sales outside of stadiums. Visitors can be arrested if they try to sneak booze, pork or porn into the country. As for jawboning with rival fans, Britain’s foreign ministry warned that “swearing and making rude gestures are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed and/or deported.”
Will any of this controversial stuff impact the matches?
Not if you’re watching Fox. Its policy is to concentrate on the action and let other media cover “ancillary” issues. Though if Vini Jr. is arrested for wearing a rainbow wig during a shootout, Fox presumably will not cut away.
Just who is Vini Jr.?
Brazilian winger Vinicius Jose Paixao de Oliveira Junior, whose poster is on the walls of about 100 million kids around the world. Other players to watch are Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, France’s Kylian Mbappe and Argentina’s Lionel Messi, the aging icon who’s never won a World Cup.
How do you pronounce “Qatar”?
You hear everything from “Cutter” to “Cotter” to “KAH-tar.” But the proper pronunciation is “Kuh-TAR.” Mispronouncing it will not get fans deported unless they are eating a pulled-pork sandwich.
How do you pronounce “Mbappe”?
I have no idea.
Is Anthony Richardson turning pro after the final game?
Who will eventually hoist the Jules Rimet Trophy and rule the soccer world?
France is the defending champ, but no country has repeated in 60 years. The favorites are Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
The host country’s team is ranked near the bottom of the field. But if the Qataris win, expect a brief uptick in ancillary activities around the kingdom.
Drinks might even be on the house, as long as fans don’t have more than one of them or share it with a guy named Jules.