They are finally playing the matches.
The World Cup is underway — a dozen years since Qatar won its bid for the games and with controversy still swirling around both the bid itself and the conditions under which the venues for the games were built, and questions surrounding the way in which Qatar treats the LGBTQ community. Even among those who have voiced anger against the host nation and FIFA (the governing organization for world soccer), there are many people — fans, players and managers alike — hoping that now that the games have begun, the joy will be undiminished in this once-every-four-year celebration of what has often called the “beautiful game.”
These photos convey that joy — but also some of the political tensions. Fans are watching from the new stadiums but also from all corners of the world. (It’s estimated that these 2022 games will have had more than 5 billion viewers before they are done.) There have been protests not only about rights in Qatar but also on behalf of women in Iran, as that nation kicked off its tourney against England.
Meanwhile, the photograph of English captain Harry Kane and his armband may require a bit of explanation: Kane and the captains of several other European teams had planned to wear “One Love” armbands in support of the LGBTQ community, only to be told by FIFA officials that they would penalized for doing so. So there is Kane pulling on the tournament’s “approved” armband — “no to discrimination.” It was one more source of tension — as the beautiful games get underway.