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Gianni Infantino’s letter about the World Cup is lamentable, irrational and dumbfoundingly stupid – The Athletic


on – Watch FIFA 2022 World Cup Live Stream Online

So here we are, almost two weeks before the World Cup and FIFA president Gianni Infantino and secretary general Fatma Samoura dispatch their call to arms, landing in the laps of football federations competing at the tournament in Qatar.

The email arrived at around 7pm (UK time) on Thursday night and within three hours it leaked and found its way onto the Sky News website.

“Please, let’s now focus on the football!” Infantino and Samoura implored.

The pair continued: “We know football does not live in a vacuum and we are equally aware that there are many challenges and difficulties of a political nature all around the world.

“But please do not allow football to be dragged into every ideological or political battle that exists.”

The message, therefore, was clear. Heads down, know your place, keep quiet and stick to the footy.

For those with the misfortune to follow Infantino for a living, the newfound limitations of football’s transformative power may come as a surprise.

It is a contrast, for example, to a moment earlier this year of what can only be described as Peak Infantino. The stage was Davos, the Swiss alpine resort, and the World Economic Forum in May. For the uninitiated, Davos is the kind of self-important hellscape made for Infantino, where the world’s most wealthy and privileged ruminate over their own potential to cleanse the world of any and all ills.

The FIFA website followed up Infantino’s appearance with a report entitled “FIFA President: Football can change the world.”

Infantino with Putin at the last World Cup (Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Infantino said: “(Nelson) Mandela was saying that sport can change the world, that it can inspire, that it unites, and he was right with that. Football, as the most popular sport in the world, has a unique reach.”

Just over five months on and Infantino’s revolutionary zeal appears to have left him behind. The letter on Thursday night did not directly mention any of the most controversial aspects of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, most notably the treatment of the migrant workers that built the stadiums, the homophobic laws that threaten the safety of LGBT+ Qataris and visitors, as well as the calls for FIFA to take a position on Iran, whose drones are supporting Russia in pummeling Ukrainian territory, not to mention the current protests going on in the country around women’s rights.

But the letter did seem to strongly hint that it would be unwise for federations to focus on such topics.

The letter continued: “At FIFA, we try to respect all opinions and beliefs without handing out moral lessons to the rest of the world.

“One of the great strengths of the world is indeed its very diversity, and if inclusion means anything, it means having respect for that diversity. No one people or culture or nation is ‘better’ than any other.

“This principle is the very foundation stone of mutual respect and non-discrimination. And this is also one of the core values of football. So, please let’s all remember that and let football take centre stage.”

It may, at this point, be useful to remind Infantino just how the world works. When he pleads for football not to be “dragged into every ideological” battle, maybe he needs to be told that homosexuality is not an ideology. It is the way a person is born; it is within us, it is who we are, it is who I am. If we accept a person’s sexuality as inherent, that it is a matter of nature rather than nurture, then we also recognise that to criticise or criminalise a person for their sexuality is manifestly irrational.

Infantino’s words, however, appear to argue that the “inclusion” of respecting homosexuality is of equal value to the “inclusion” of respecting the criminalisation of homosexuality.

This argument appears to be that true tolerance means to be tolerant of violent and harmful intolerance. It means that the worldview of two loving women, married and raising children together, is of equal value to that, for example, of Salah Al-Yafei. This man describes himself as an “educational consultant” at Qatar’s Aspire academy, which houses Qatar’s most talented young sports stars. He has 60,000 Instagram followers and one recent video stated: “Faced with open promotion of homosexuality, the disapproval in your expression and demeanour has a big impact on children, as it conveys the message to them that this is something that is deviant and we shouldn’t accept it.” This is the life of shame inflicted upon gay people in Qatar, where the homophobic rhetoric treats a person’s natural state as an ailment that must be at best repressed or, at worst, cured.

A fortnight out from the tournament, Infantino’s words have gone down like a bucket of cold sick with those who believe that broadcasters, media, federations and journalists should have the freedom to scrutinise the hosts of the most popular sporting tournament in the world. As such, it is not only lamentable content but also dumbfoundingly stupid as a strategy, alienating those who FIFA may wish to keep on side during the next few weeks.

The FA’s One Love logo, which does not call out specific discrimination (Photo: Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images)

Yet the reality is that Qatar enablers, so keen to protect their relationships, often do the state more harm than good. Take, for example, the British foreign secretary James Cleverly, who recently told a radio station that British LGBT+ people travelling to Doha ought to “flex and compromise” if they visit during the World Cup. It is hard to resist the conclusion that Cleverly’s meek apologism is the result of British business interests being closely tied up in Qatar, whether it be the £1.5billion ($1.7bn) worth of British contracts linked to the tournament, or the British RAF planes protecting the skies, or the £6billion worth of Typhoon jets Britain has sold to Qatar in recent years. In that context, the plight of LGBT+ people in Qatar appears to be an afterthought.

And the truth is that it remains a footnote for the sport itself. We should remember, for example, that when Qatar were awarded this competition in 2010, the Premier League was still several years away from its annual Rainbow Laces campaign, which was only introduced after the competition was dragged kicking and screaming into it by a publicity stunt from the bookmakers Paddy Power. In recent years, as the World Cup drew closer, the vast majority of national federations have done next to nothing to raise concerns about the situation for LGBT+ Qataris and travelling fans. The English Football Association, for example, signed a Memoranda of Understanding both with the Qatar FA and the Orwellian-named Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy in 2018. The then chairman Greg Clarke announced these ties while posing in front of the English FA’s “Football For All” logo — following zero consultation with English LGBT+ football supporters. Those memoranda remain intact to this day.

Since then, the Qatari authorities have offered very little on the record over the years to reassure LGBT+ citizens or visitors. They often say vague phrases like “everyone is welcome” but always caveat the message with an insistence visitors must respect Qatari culture, which leaves people like myself, travelling to the tournament, unsure on the state’s meaningful position on key issues. What would happen, for example, should I write about LGBT+ issues while on the ground in Doha during the coming month? In the absence of Qatari clarity, we are left in the absurd position where football executives from the English FA speak on behalf of a different state’s law enforcement agency.

As such, we heard from Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the English FA, who brought the news in late September that LGBT+ couples who hold hands in Qatar will not be prosecuted. “They’ve absolutely told us all the right answers for anything we’ve talked about,” Bullingham said, appearing to praise the tournament’s hosts.

When we step back from the surrealism of this tournament, is it not completely baffling that a football organisation is telling us how a country intends to apply its penal code when that country is so reluctant to state such matters for themselves? Then we have the absurdity of this reassurance landing in September, eight weeks before the tournament, as though the English gays have been waiting for 12 years since Qatar’s winning bid for a polite FA nod to then start saving and scrimping for tickets two months before the World Cup kicks off.

And if Bullingham is so confident in the host’s welcome, why is the English (and other European nations) proposed statement in support of LGBT+ people at the tournament consisting only of an armband bearing a “One Love” slogan? This shows a colour design that does not appear to be the rainbow commonly recognised as a symbol of the LGBT+ community. If the hosts are so generous, so inclusive and so open to dialogue, why does it not state “gay rights” or call out Qatar’s laws against homosexuality? Why will these federations of freedom fighters not recognise clearly the people they claim to want to stand up for?

Perhaps an answer to the reticence came in the I newspaper on Thursday, where a gay man in Qatar revealed he was lured to a hotel room via a dating app and found Qatari officials waiting to attack him upon arrival. They raped him, the report said, before arresting him.

Anyway, as Gianni says, back to the football everyone.

(Top photo: Stephen McCarthy – FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images)

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Manchester United

Ratings: De Gea, Martinez & Sabitzer were great against Fulham; Fernandes’ brace was a positive too



By – Stream Manchester United Game Today

Manchester United beat Fulham 3-1 at Old Trafford in the Emirate FA Cup quarter final. It was Fulham who were the better team for large spells as Aleksandar Mitrović opening the scoring in the 50th minute of the match. A Willian handball gave a penalty for United which Bruno Fernandes scored – Willian, Mitrović and Marco Silva were sent off. Marcel Saboteur then scored his first goal for United before Fernandes scored a second.

Fulham started well at Old Trafford with Aleksandar Mitrović showing great strength down the right in the second minute, whipping in a good ball that Scott McTominay had to be alert to knock behind. Harry Maguire then headed clear the resulting set-piece. David De Gea made a save in the third minute as Issa Diop was found 15-yards out on an angle, looping a good header towards De Gea, who had the help the ball over the crossbar. Fulham were lively.

In the fourth minute of the match Mitrović had a penalty appeal waved away after he thought he was fouled by Luke Shaw in the box. United seemed to be sloppy from the start with Maguire adding to it with bad passing from the back. Andreas Pereira then drove forward in the eighth minute, found Mitrović who then set up Willian on the edge of the box, who should have found more but hit his effort far and wide of the target. United needed to be so much better.

In the tenth minute, Bruno Fernandes was down needing treatment after seemingly being elbowed just above his waist. He was fine to continue though. Marcus Rashford launched an attack in the 13th minute, finding Wout Weghorst on the edge of the box for the Dutchman’s finish was not good enough and was straight at Bernd Leno. Mitrović seemed to be lively in the early stages of the match, seeking a goal against United in the Emirates FA Cup.

Fulham had a good chance in the 14th minute with Harrison Reed nicking the ball off Lisandro Martinez then charging into the box. He had three in the box but his final ball was not good enough and the ball was cleared out for a corner. The corner found its way to Tim Ream on the left flank and he delivered a good ball across the face of the goal but there were no takers for Fulham. Andreas Pereira was booked in the 18th minute for a foul on Rashford.

Maguire was booked three minutes later, which would be a suspension for the semi final of the competition, should United get there where the winner of this match will face Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley. United were close in the 24th minute as Rashford cut onto his right foot, curled the ball into where Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer were but neither of them could reach it in the end. Fulham wanted another penalty in the 26th minute after Mitrović went down.

It was not given though as there was nothing in it – other than a dive for Mitrović. Fulham had a chance in the 31st minute but Mitrović was unable to find the back of the net. United had a chance at the other end a minute later with Rashford the source of imagination for United but on his final ball, Leno was able to get to block it which ricocheted of Rashford and out for a goal kick. United then started to find some flow but needed a lot more than they had brought to far.

Martinez defended well in the 40th minute as Mitrović was sent up the channel, having an eye for the box. He tried to beat the Argentinian defender with a change of pace but Martinez stayed strong and came away with the ball. Sabitzer had a chance on goal in the 41st minute, taking on a strike from 22-yards but Leno parried it away. Jadon Sancho started something a minute later, with Sabitzer also involved but Rashford did not get to it. It was 0-0 at half time.

There were no substitutions for either team during the break. Fulham started on top again in the second half with João Palhinha and Reed keeping the chance alive, Willian then back heeled the ball to Antonee Robinson who shot at goal but De Gea tipped it over the crossbar. De Gea made another save a minute later was Willian struck from the edge of the box. Fulham opened the scoring in the 50th minute through Mitrović, who buried the ball provided by Issa Diop.

In the 54th minute, United went direct to Weghorst who held it for Rashford, then finding Fernandes. The Portuguese midfielder took his strike from the edge of the box but it was wide of the target. Ten Hag made a substitution in the 59th minute with Antony replacing McTominay. Willian started rolling back the years in the 64th minute, showing his class and ability. He was unable to inspire Fulham to double their lead though. United still needed to get something back.

De Gea performed another great save in the 66th after Mitrović rose highest to head towards goal. Fernandes had some involvement in something in the 68th minute, sending it in to Sancho, who struck it and it deflected off Rashford. In the 70th minute, Willian seemed to handle the ball, being honest about it. VAR got involved and the referee looked at the screen. He sent Willian off and gave United a penalty – it was a harsh sending off for the Brazilian.

Mitrović got nasty, pushed the referee and pushed his face into his face and was sent off for that. Marco Silva was also sent off for his reaction from the double red card, which turned into a treble. Fernandes took the penalty, scoring his ninth goal of the season for United. Two minutes later, Sabitzer scored his first goal for United after Shaw played the ball into him as he was running in the box. VAR looked at the goal and awarded it. United were 1-0 down to 2-1 up.

That was a dramatic ten minutes. Willian was perhaps treated badly for that sending off but what Mitrović did was out of order and he deserves that. Silva also deserved to be sent off for his reaction to what happened. Some will say United got their way with the referees again but it was purely on Fulham what happened. United just gained from it. That is what happens in football. The Fernandes penalty followed by the Saboteur goal was brilliant for United.

United seemed to cool the game down after that, trying to keep possession – dominating the game, which was a first to be fair. It was a terrible game for United before the penalty. Antony came close in the 88th minute – it tested Leno and Diop but he was not able to score. Fred replaced Rashford in the 83rd minute of the match, giving United more in the midfield with them 2-1 up at this stage of the match. United just needed to keep the ball and keep Fulham a bay.

In the 89th minute, Luis Boa Norte – Fulham’s assistant manager, made a triple substitution with Cédric Spares, Manot Solomon and Daniel James replacing Kenny Tete, Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Harrison Reed. In the 90th minute, Tom Cairney replaced Andreas Pereira. Seven minutes were added at the end of the second half. United found a third goal, through Fernandes – his tenth of the season, assisted by Fred in the sixth minute of added time.

It was United that would face Brighton and Hove Albion in the Emirates FA Cup semi final at Wembley in April with Manchester City facing Sheffield United in the other semi final. United’s match will probably be on Sunday 23 April as they are playing in the UEFA Europa League the Thursday prior to the match. Ten Hag was happy, United were happy and the supporters were happy. Another trip to Wembley for United – another chance for another trophy this season.

Player Ratings

David De Gea: Made some great saves to deny Fulham – one of which kept them in the game. Conceded to Mitrović but later in the second half, that threat was gone. It was a comfortable match for De Gea. ★★★★★★★★

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Did not seem to be at his best until Antony was on the pitch. His final third play before that was dire. Their ability with each other is good to see. One of the better aspects of his game. ★★★★★★

Harry Maguire: Not the best performances – one of the worst. Hauled down Mitrović and was booked for it – therefore misses the semi final. Kept his place as Raphael Varane was ill and regressed massively. ★★★★★

Lisandro Martinez: The Argentinian really imposed himself against Fulham, although Harrison Reed did cause him to misjudge him. That said, he was great at the back for United and health with Aleksandar Mitrović well. ★★★★★★★★

Luke Shaw: Did not really get going to help United on the attack much. Did get his seventh assist of the season though playing the ball into Marcel Sabitzer for him to score his first United goal, overlapping Jadon Sancho. ★★★★★★★

Scott McTominay: He was disciplined positionally when he did not have the ball – not that he was bad with it. He got a chance on goal just before the break. Replaced by Antony in the 58th minute of the match – before the madness. ★★★★★

Marcel Sabitzer: Scored his first goal for United. Took time to adjust with Scott McTominay. Had a good shot in the first half and played in a cross. His goal was a brilliant finish – first Austrian to score for United. ★★★★★★★★

Jadon Sancho: Seemed off the pace in the first half. Seemed slow on and off the ball at times. Did not get much dynamism in the match but did win the penalty for United with the ball touching Willian’s hand. ★★★★★★

Bruno Fernandes: Careless with the ball at times. He changed his performance when United won the penalty levelling from the spot. He got his second of the game in added time, giving him ten goals and 10 assists this season. ★★★★★★★

Marcus Rashford: He was the one player that created something in the first half. He was quiet in the second half and did not get many chances. He was replaced by Fred in the 83rd minute with United 2-1 up. ★★★★★★

Wout Weghorst: It was not a great day for the Dutchman against Fulham. He was unable to get many chances towards goal, with his first shot not actually a shot, more of a back pass. He was put in the number ten role. ★★★★★


Antony: Replaced McTominay 58′. He helped United on the attack with led to the penalty. He was lively since his introduction. It was good that he recovered from illness ahead of this match. Superb player on his day. ★★★★★★★

Fred: Replaced Rashford 83′. Came on giving more energy with United in the lead. He got his fourth assist of the season for Fernandes’ second goal of the match. He was an important substitute for United. ★★★★★★

Match Information

Goals: Bruno Fernandes 75′ penalty’, 90+6′, Marcel Sabitzer 77′; Aleksandar Mitrović 50′

Assists: Luke Shaw 77′, Fred 90+6′; Issa Diop 50′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw; McTominay (Antony 58′), Sabitzer; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford (Fred 83′); Weghorst

Substitutes Not Used: Butland; Lindelof, Malacia, Dalot; Mainoo; Pellistri, Elanga

Bookings: Harry Maguire 21′; Andreas Pereira 18′, Willian s/o 72′, Aleksandar Mitrović 72′

Written by John Walker

source – Manchester United Live Stream Now

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FIFA World Cup to have 104 matches in 2026 – Sky News



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FIFA World Cup to have 104 matches in 2026  Sky News
FIFA World Cup 2022 Live Stream –

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Manchester United

Confirmed XI: Maguire & Martinez in defence; Sabitzer, Sancho, Fernandes & Rashford supporting Weghorst in attack against Fulham



By – Stream Manchester United Game Today

Manchester United face Fulham in the Emirates FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford this afternoon. Erik ten Hag’s side will play their second quarter final of the season days after reaching their third quarter final in the UEFA Europa League, where they will face Sevilla over two legs next month. This match against Fulham is the final match for United prior to the international break, then the season will continue with United playing nine matches in April – another busy month.

Should United beat Fulham and earn a semi final place in the FA Cup this season, the match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in the Premier League would be postponed as that is the weekend the semi finals will be played at Wembley, so United would need to find the time to reschedule that match, plus the one against Brighton and Hove Albion that should have been played this weekend. Should United go all the way in both competitions, they will have a busy period ahead.

United and Fulham have already met at Craven Cottage in the Premier League this season, just prior to the FIFA World Cup where United won 2-1 with Alejandro Garnacho scoring the winner in in the last minute of added time. United will face Fulham again at Old Trafford on the final day of the Premier League season. The draw for the semi final of the FA Cup should be done prior to this match commencing, providing extra time is not needed between Brighton and Grimsby Town.

Manchester United

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Martinez, Shaw;

McTominay, Sabitzer;

Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford;



Butland; Lindelof, Malacia, Dalot; Fred, Mainoo; Antony, Pellistri, Elanga



Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson;

Reed, Palhinha;

De Cordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian;



Rodak; Adarabioyo, Soares; Cairney, James, Lukic; Wilson, Solomon, Vinicius

United and Fulham have met 87 times in all competitions in the history of both clubs. United have won 53 times, drawn 20 times and lost 14 times. Earlier this season United beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage, just prior to the FIFA World Cup with Christian Eriksen and Alejandro Garnacho scoring either side of Dan James’ equaliser. This will be the second meeting of the two teams this season – United face Fulham at Old Trafford in the final Premier League match this season.

United and Fulham have met 14 times in the FA Cup – United have won eight times, drawn four times and lost twice. The last defeat to Fulham in the FA Cup came back in 1908. United have scored 27 goals, conceded 15 and kept four clean sheets. The last time the two teams met in the FA Cup was back in 2013 – a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford with Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and a brave from Javier Hernandez before Aaron Hughes scored a late consolation goal.

Andreas Pereira, Dimitar Berbatov, Andy Cole, Louis Saha, Edwin van de Sar, Paul Parker, Kieran Richardson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Chris Smalling, Tim Fosu-Mensah, George Best and Charlie Mitten have all played for both Manchester United and Fulham. Best is probably the most well-known along with van de Sar, Parker, Cole, Berbatov, Mitten Saha and Smalling. Pereira is doing well at Fulham after being sold by United. He has three goals and six assists in 31 appearances so far.

Written by John Walker

source – Manchester United Live Stream Now

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