WHAT A START! (IF YOU FACTOR OUT THE FINAL 59 MINUTES)
“I feel Qatari. I feel Arab. I feel African. I feel gay. I feel disabled. I feel a migrant worker. Man I feel like a woman. I feel for you, I think I love you. I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. I am a lineman for the county. I am the resurrection and I am the life. I am woman hear me roar. I’m the leader, I’m the leader, I’m the leader of the gang I am. I am the one and only, you can’t take that away from me. I am, I am, I am Superman and I know what’s happening. I I I I I I, I I I I I I I I, la la love plus one.”
Hubris is one hell of a drug. That wasn’t the only time Gianni Infantino dropped some bars this weekend, either. Just before Sunday’s big kick-off between hosts Qatar and party-poopers-elect Ecuador, the Fifa funnyman hooked up a mic to the stadium PA and yammered on about football uniting the world in the finger-wagging one-last-thing tap-room style. Despite keeping it brief this time, he still managed to extract most of the atmosphere out of the stadium with just a few flaps of his brass neck, and so it was left to the players to bring everyone back up again. As if it wasn’t already going to be a tough gig.
And to be fair, they gave it a good go, the first 31 minutes producing one disallowed goal that sparked a worldwide refereeing conspiracy theory, the disproving of a worldwide refereeing conspiracy theory, two good goals, and the most slapstick goalkeeping display at a finals since the halcyon days of Jim Leighton. OK, so the second half was a complete non-event, not least because a large proportion of the home support, having witnessed Qatar freezing in the searing heat, upped sticks and left, driving away in high luxury 4×4 dudgeon. Football Daily would assume they were off in search of a couple of shafts of Memory Obliterator if we didn’t know any better. But on balance, as opening games go, we’ve seen worse. The four 0-0s in a row between 1966 and 1978 for a start. So, as things stand after one match, Qatar 2022 is already on course to be better than Mexico 70. Seems Fifa knew what it was doing after all, then, eh. Eh?
LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!
Join Scott Murray from 1pm GMT for hot MBM coverage of England 1-1 Iran, while Barry Glendenning will be on deck for Senegal 2-2 Netherlands (4pm) and Rob Smyth will guide you through USA! USA!! USA!!! 1-1 Wales (7pm).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Timing is always timing. From your side it is easy to look at how we can choose timings. Sometimes you write truths, sometimes you write lies. I don’t have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to – don’t have to worry what others think. I talk when I want to. Everybody knows” – Cristiano Ronaldo rocks up at a Portugal press conference to double down on something everyone knows after the past week.
“I genuinely admire and respect the stance that recent letter writers to Football Daily have taken in boycotting the entire upcoming HRWC. I will be watching, and the main reason is I can’t justify telling a seven-year-old that he’s not allowed to watch the World Cup because of the way a country he had never heard of treats migrant workers and LGBTQ+ people and women, and because of what a horrible corrupt organisation Fifa is. To offset my watching, I’m reading every human rights-adjacent story coming from Qatar, and I applaud all the pieces by Barney Ronay, Jonathan Liew, and many others at Big Website, highlighting all these aspects, and especially David Squires’ unbelievably hard-hitting and poignant recent series of cartoons. Watch, or don’t watch, but support Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, FairSquare, Big Paper/Website, and everyone else trying to improve things. Enjoy the football, if you can” – Brendan Mac Carron.
“I had actually put a bit into preparing for the HRWC. I bought a big Canada flag for the house, a small one for the aerial of the car, and a vintage Canada shirt to wear down the gym (I’m not Canadian, mind, I’m that needlessly wacky person at work). But as a series of canaries in coal mines turned toes up throughout Friday, I realised I couldn’t tolerate any exposure to the thing. I’ll be hiding in virtual churches from digital Brian Glovers, recreating a malevolent and interminable pastiche of the Likely Lads. Realising that what I fear most is being accidentally exposed to competently produced accurate and timely information about football, I’m planning on only reading The Daily” – Jon Millard.
“Not sure why Qatar felt they needed to ban the sale of alcohol in close proximity to the grounds (Friday’s Football Daily), with the associated risk of negative publicity. Surely charging £12 a glass for Budweiser was sufficient disincentive for drunkenness” – Mike Boulton.
“I thought nonsensical rambling that, at times, inadvertently ends up being funny was your forte until Gianni Infantino came and said: ‘Hold my beer.’ Your move” – Krishnamoorthy V.
Send your letters to email@example.com. And you can always tweet Football Daily – while you can – via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … Brendan Mac Carron.