Stars shine, countries disappointed in unusual World Cup


Zealan Munsey, Photographer

The group stage has come and gone. This year’s World Cup in Qatar has been something else… With the host country being eliminated to Germany being rejected from the knockout stage 2 cups in a row by centimeters, there have been plenty of surprises.

There are hints of corruption with some shady things going down on the political side, like rumors of Qatar paying off FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of football worldwide) to host the World Cup.

Another example is alcohol sponsorships. Qatar is an Islamic country, so alcohol isn’t really their jam. What’s odd is that instead of Qatar banning alcohol sales at the Cup a month or so before so sponsors like Budweiser could pull out of their deal or FIFA could work something out, they waited a couple of days before kickoff to do it. 

There is no way they would have been awarded the World Cup had they said this earlier, as it annoys the million and even billion-dollar sponsors. Yet, for some reason, they delayed that message…

Despite all this shadiness in this year’s World Cup, soccer is still known as “the beautiful game.” The 2018 final that featured France and Croatia had 1.12 billion viewers, so it’s easy to see people love the sport. The World Cup is always highly anticipated by soccer (sorry Brits, association football) fans around the world. To see your nation compete against other international squads for it all is truly a sight to behold.

While favorites like Brazil, France and England made it out of the group stage, there were some surprise eliminations like Belgium, Mexico and Germany.

Lionel Messi, the best of our generation, showed out as the captain of the Argentinian squad and propelled the South Americans to the knockout stage. A couple of days later in the Round of 16, the PSG forward scored a goal in his 1,000th senior career appearance, further solidifying Leo’s place among the best footballers of all time, competing with Edson Nascimento—aka Pelé—for the title of the G.O.A.T.

The Americans surprised the world, drawing England 0-0 and advancing to the Round of 16. They’re sure to make a good run in 2026 when the cup is hosted on American soil, as they have many young players that will be developed by then.

South Korea made a very good run and was definitely one of the most fun to watch, especially their forward and captain Son Heung-min. A star at Tottenham in the Premier League, he’s sure to keep leading this squad far in international play.

Eight groups consisting of four national teams each played against each other in the qualifying round. The top two of each advanced to the knockout stage, which is single elimination and starts with 16 teams.

Teams played three matches against their three group opponents. The number of points they obtained decided who moved on to the tournament.

*GD means Goal Differential, which is what you get when you subtract the Goals Allowed from the Goals For. It is used as a tiebreaker when two squads have the same amount of points. A win is worth three points, a draw is one, and a loss is none.