Futbol Papa’s World Cup 2018 Diary
June 14, 2018
World Cup 2018 began today with Russia’s 5-0 destruction of a sorry Saudi Arabia in Moscow, in the first match of Group A. The play was not particularly scintillating, and the host’s victory served to show why they will have problems with both Egypt and Uruguay as the tourney progresses. La Liga and Villarreal striker Denis Cheryshev established himself as the early top goal scorer with two easy tallies and the World Cup party got off to a good start for the home crowd.
Papa predicted the win but by a 2-0 score line at most. Ironically, that was the precise score until the 71st minute and then three goals were scored in 23 minutes, including four of stoppage time, as the Arabians crumbled.
The opening ceremony included Iker Casillas presenting the FIFA World Cup trophy, Brazil’s Ronaldo presenting the match ball which had made a round trip to the International Space Station, British singer Robbie Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina provided entertainment while Zabivanka, the brown and white wolf that is this cup’s mascot, made an on-field appearance. Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and FIFA president Gianni Infantino gave short opening speeches and then joined Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in Putin’s box, to watch the opening match. The FIFA president diplomatically sat between the leaders who showed some camaraderie at the early stages of play but less of it as the game progressed.
Meanwhile, the opera at the Spanish National Team continued as Royal Spanish Football Federation Sporting Director, Fernando Hierro, took the reigns from sacked coach Julen Lopetegui, who chose to announce his decision to become Real Madrid’s new coach five minutes before his boss, federation president Luis Rubiales, was informed of the fact via a media report.
The poor handling of the matter by Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, Lopetegui, and Rubiales, means that the Spanish National Team will begin their participation in World Cup 2018 with a coach who will have been on the job 48-hours. Rubiales, who left Moscow in a huff to go speak with the national team’s players about the coach, left before the FIFA vote on who would host World Cup 2026 was taken, forcing the nation to abstain from voting.
Yesterday, the United Bid, which comprised the USA, Mexico, and Canada, won the rights to host World Cup 2026, which will by then be contested by 48 participants. The winning bid obtained 134 votes to the 65 votes obtained by its one competitor, Morocco. Bidding countries are not allowed to vote, so of FIFA’s 203 countries, Cuba, Slovenia, and Spain abstained and Iran voted for “None of the bids.”
The cup begins in earnest tomorrow as Egypt and Uruguay face off at 8:00 AM EST in Yaketerinburg, Morocco faces Iran at 11:00 AM in St. Petersburg, and Portugal and Spain clash at 2:00 PM EST in Sochi.