The winner of this 22nd World Cup is not football. Although the insane finale, the most beautiful ever, made up for a lot

Hans Vandeweghe

And the winner… of this 22nd World Cup is… not football because we’ve seen too many full and half non-matches, where a team that happened to take the lead then shut things down. Although the insane finale, the most beautiful ever, made up for a lot.

One hundred percent certainly not the players because they may work double shifts in the coming months, or worse.

Not even the arbitration because it was below par. More than that, it was simply impossible to measure up. Ditto for the VAR or other technology that was sick in the same inconsistent bed.

Has the female arbitration broken the glass ceiling? Hardly, because the excellent Stéphanie Frappart whistled one small match and her female colleagues were given a role at most as fourth referee or secretaries along the line.

Local human rights or the working conditions of the migrants or the queer community have also not improved during that month of football in Qatar, what would they have thought? There was mostly a lot of bleating but little or no wool.

The sporting winners would not come from Belgium, it was suspected in advance, and that was quickly confirmed. And not from Germany either.

Fortunately, they were not from Morocco. Incomprehensible, that adoration with one of the most negative teams. Always that annoying lamentation in the field and the most unsympathetic supporters off the field. Constantly whistling the opponent in the stands and running amok in the streets of European cities after every match, you would hope for less that they quarrel after this success like every African team and have to stay at home for the next World Cup.

Incidentally, anyone who sees Morocco as a representative for Africa and celebrates breaking through the glass ceiling only knows Africa from geography lessons. Morocco may be in the north of that continent, but it has nothing to do with the countries under the Sahara.

Unfortunately, the winners of the World Cup did not come from Croatia either. A world triumph was otherwise granted to that great little young sports country.

A too weak France did not make it and so did Kylian Mbappé. The mean guys from Argentina eventually became world champions and crowned Lionel Messi as what he already was, the greatest footballer of this century.

He has been granted it, but he is not the great triumphator of this 22nd FIFA World Cup; but Qatar, the Arab region, FIFA and above all Gianni Infantino.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino follows the final in the company of French President Emmanuel Macron.  Picture Photo News

FIFA President Gianni Infantino follows the final in the company of French President Emmanuel Macron.Picture Photo News

The organization by the mini-state of Qatar was finished. The Europeans stayed home en masse and protested pro forma against anything and everything, until they lost their way. The visitors from other parts of the world had an incredible time in the plastic and concrete setting of Doha and the surrounding area.

The Arab world is gilded. Qatar, until recently maligned in that region, has shown the way to all other countries in the Gulf. Football will be the third import-export product, next to oil and gas, and Mohammad bin Salman is already assured of one of the next World Cups with Saudi Arabia. His dubious reputation and that of his regime after the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi appears to be an asset rather than a disadvantage in winning a major championship. No hassle with such a boss.

The great triumphant at the 22nd FIFA World Cup is FIFA and MVP of the tournament is the president himself, Infantino. One billion more revenues from the past four-year cycle means even more money to hand out and continue his presidential status next year. That will last until 2031 because in the margins of this tournament he obtained that his first three years of presidency from 2016 do not count towards the three maximum terms of four years. Bravo Gianni. Sepp couldn’t have done better.

At the same time, Infantino unveiled his plans to target revenues of $11 billion for the next cycle, another 50 percent increase. From 2025, those plans include a World Cup for clubs with 32 participants and a World Cup for countries with 48 countries.

Europe (read: UEFA) is against it. Infantino doesn’t care because the rest of the football world is bigger than Europe and is pro FIFA and anti UEFA. At this World Cup, the smooth Swiss has once again been able to shift his power base and that of football away from Europe and to the East. He wants to go even further. The 2030 World Cup will be awarded in 2024. Until 2034, Asia (by Qatar 2022) is basically a no-go zone for a World Cup. Don’t be surprised if, according to FIFA, China is suddenly no longer in Asia and gets the 2034 edition.

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