England and Wales mark World Cup on day of off-pitch drama |  world news

England and Wales mark World Cup on day of off-pitch drama | world news

It was a day football fans dreamed of at home.

Wales, in their first world Cup for 64 years; England, launching their campaign with genuine hope of finally ending 56 years of suffering.

“Tickets are disappearing from phones” – Last World Cup

And both can be satisfied with their opening salvos – Gareth Southgate’s men beat Iran to top the groupfollowed by Wales hit back from behind to score a point against USA.

But this World Cup is anything but normal. There has been more drama off the pitch than on it so far, and it hasn’t been much longer than 24 hours.

The decision to prohibit captains from wearing the OneLove armband – a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community – came late in the day, just three hours before England kick off.

The frustration of the English and Welsh managers was clear, but in the end they felt they had no choice.

App issues leave fans stranded outside

Meanwhile, outside the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, thousands of English and Iranian fans were still queuing to enter just 15 minutes before their match kicks off.

The World Cup app had crashed, and with it their digital tickets were gone.

Some were left to watch the game on their phones as they sat outside in the lobby.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group B - England v Iran - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - November 21, 2022 Iranian fan outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Iranian and English fans had problems entering the stadium

Extremely brave Iranian protest

And while OneLove armbands may have been replaced by FIFA-sanctioned armbands, that hasn’t stopped politics from entering football.

England players took the knee as they had promised, as they have done throughout Euro 2020, while the Iranian team refused to sing the national anthem.

It was an extremely courageous decision, taken as a team to support the protests at home. They had told us last week that they had discussed together what to do, at 4pm on Monday afternoon we found out.

They are well-known figures in Iran, a football-mad country just across the Gulf from Qatar. Their stand did not go unnoticed in the stadium, and it may not go unpunished when they return.

Such a heavy weight on such young shoulders.

Read more:
Protests inside that sent Iran to ‘the brink of explosion’

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group B - England v Iran - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - November 21, 2022 Iran's Ali Karimi, Milad Mohammadi and Majid Hosseini line up during the national anthems before the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Iranian players refused to sing the national anthem

Wales supporters were prevented from entering the stadium

A few hours later, more controversy.

Wales fans wearing rainbow-coloured clothing have been barred from entering the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. Among them was former Wales national football captain Laura McAllister, who wore a rainbow bucket hat.

Now a professor at Cardiff University, McAllister wrote on Twitter: “So despite the fine words of the FIFA World Cup ahead of the event, Cymru’s rainbow bucket hats have been confiscated at the stadium, mine included.

“I had a conversation about this with the stewards – we have video evidence. This 2022 World Cup is only getting better, but we will continue to uphold our values.”

FIFA has apologized to one of them, but has yet to explain why they were refused entry.

Read more:
What are the Qatari laws on homosexuality?

Anger after England and Wales dropped OneLove armband

Wales' Gareth Bale scores his team's first goal past goalkeeper Matt Turner of USA during the World Cup, Group B soccer match between USA and Wales at Ahmad Bin Stadium Ali in Doha, Qatar, on Monday Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Gareth Bale earned Wales a penalty draw

On the pitch, things couldn’t have gone better for England. Gareth Southgate will be frustrated with both goals conceded by his side, but putting six ahead of their first opponents is a dream start.

After a lackluster first half, Wales fans will do the draw. A Gareth Bale’s late penalty gave them hopeand everything remains to be played in group A.

The two home nations will meet in the final group game next Tuesday – a match that is already whetting the appetite.

On Tuesday, Lionel Messi’s Argentina kick off against Saudi Arabia, while defending champions France close out the day against Australia.

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