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Why World Cup 2022 defies expectations

France's head coach Didier Deschamps, right, greets France's Olivier Giroud during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Australia, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar on November 22, 2022. [AP Photo]

The Fifa World Cup, like our General Elections, comes once every five years. And like our polls, outcomes are sometimes contested, as was the award of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. It is alleged some palms were greased, with some Fifa commissioners receiving about $1.5m for their vote. Let’s resist the temptation to convert that into shillings as the loots were not spent here!

Some commissioners representing other blocs, like Europe, reportedly resisted personal gifts for their vote and let their nations enjoy some business with the Qataris, and this was by the billions of dollars. That’s the crux of a new film on Netflix, Fifa Uncovered.

But this hasn’t dampened the action on the pitch, which has been quite enticing, the highlights so far being some favourites being twangad by start-ups. Previous winners such as Germany and Argentina, for instance, have been shown dust.

In the case of the latter, it’s Saudi Arabia who came back into the game and secured a late equaliser, after Argentina secured a lead from a spot-kick, before clinching a winner in the dying minutes of the game.

Argentina are third in Fifa rankings—I hope no bribery was involved in the rankings—while Saudi Arabia are number 51. So thrilled were the Saudis, the ruler of the kingdom declared a public holiday to celebrate.

That means we’re not the only country in the whole wide world that look for the least excuse to make merry. Japan, on the other hand, who trounced Germany on a similar margin of 2-1, delayed their celebration. Their supporters were busy cleaning the pitch after the match.