Just in

World Cup/final thoughts

There is quite a divergence in the assessment of the Qatar World Cup pre and post the final.

In the build-up all the talk was of migrant deaths in the building of stadia, the unsuitability of the location weather-wise, the lack of human rights and the corruption of FIFA in the selection process.

English football fans were distinctly unhappy with a break in the Premier calendar.

However, after the greatest Final ever ,the crowning of Lionel Messi and the passing of the baton from him to hat-trick hero Kylian Mbappe – less critical talk though – the BBC, whose coverage was lamentable with the exception of South American expert Tim Vickery and commentator John Murray, stubbornly maintained they were right to raise the issues.

As for England, no surprises here as going out in the quarters is about their level.

There are some notable youngsters – especially Bukayo Saka – but the inability to beat a leading international side when it matters still perpetuates.

Brazil were the favourites and played some stunning football but – as in 1982 where they were the best team but lost 3-2 to Italy – they did not win.

Argentina did this time, despite losing their first game to Saudi Arabia.

Brighton fans I know hailed their World Cup winner Alex Mac Allister.

Morocco won many friends in reaching the semis but what about Croatia – a country of less than 5 million – who have finished 2nd and 3rd in the last two World Cups?

The refereeing was often rightly criticised, but not in the Final where Syzmon Mariciniak unobtrusively got the  big decisions right but I would also like to single out French referee Stephanie Frappier.

I have seen her officiate in Ligue Une.

There must have been pressure on her as the first woman referee in a World Cup but absolutely no cause for criticism.

One should not forget it is a World Cup, which means that countries not traditionally associated with the tournament can and should put it on and African countries praised for their contribution on and off the pitch with their animated fans.

The next one will be in North America (Canada, Mexico and the USA) and I would not be surprised if Saudi Arabia -the only country to field a team exclusively drawn from their own league – are awarded the 2030 tournament.

Those narrow-minded Brits who criticise such a venue would do well to recall the despicable scenes at Wembley for the Euro Final.

Avatar photo
About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts