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What we learned from day 1 of the World Cup

The winners, the losers, and the things to keep an eye on for day 2.

Soccer: FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022-Ecuador at Qatar Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 men’s World Cup is now officially underway. The hosts Qatar faced off against Ecuador in the opening game of the tournament, in what proved to be a historic game. Qatar made history by losing the game, 2-0, becoming the first host nation to lose their opening game.

There was some VAR controversy — complete with a lengthy delay — as well as varying degrees of fan unrest in and outside of the stadium. So, who (or what) were the winners and losers on the day?


Enner Valencia: It would have been easy — and yes, obvious — to say Ecuador. They were, literally, the winners. But Enner Valencia deserves some recognition of his own. He had his opening goal ruled out after an apparent Ent Moot was held to determine an offside infraction had occurred in the build-up. He didn’t let that keep him down, though; he drew a penalty, sank the penalty, then scored a header to secure a brace and the win. In the three years prior to this game he’d scored a total of 4 goals for Ecuador, so this was a welcome burst of form. He had to come off with an injury and was later seen with ice on his knee, but Ecuador Head Coach Gustavo Alfaro has already confirmed that he’ll be back for their game against the Netherlands on Friday.

Critics of the World Cup being held in Qatar: Surely you’ve already seen videos or pictures of the fan accommodations in Qatar, where people are paying over $200 USD per night to stay in what is mostly just a tent with shared-use showers and restrooms. There have already been two substantial incidents at fan zones, with riot police pushing crowds back at one today. Following on the decision to ban beer sales in stadiums, Ecuador fans were spotted chanting “queremos cerveza” at halftime, presumably while Qatari fans were leaving the stadium with the team down by 2. Add to that the rumor that teams may face sanctions for wearing armbands in support of LGBTQIA+ issues, as well as reporting that the sale of cooked kosher food and Jewish prayer services would be banned in Doha, and the tournament is already a bit of a shambles.


Gianni Infantino: FIFA president Gianni Infantino might feel like he’s winning, sitting cozied up with Mohammad Bin Salman once again, but his hour-long whataboutism monologue from Saturday is not the kind of thing that a winner does. That’s loser behavior. Take all of the reasons why critics of this World Cup are in the winners section above and apply the opposite side of them to Infantino and all of his paid cheerleaders from broadcasting partners like FOX and elsewhere.

A historic streak: Okay, I don’t know if it’s necessarily a streak, but for nearly 100 years there have been men’s World Cups, and for almost that entire time the host country has at least been able to manage a draw in their opening game of the tournament. That’s a streak, and it’s a bit of history, so: historic streak. Well, that streak is officially history now. Qatar’s loss is the first ever opening-game loss by a host nation, and they seem destined to join South Africa as the only host nation to fail to get out of their group. What other history could we see made over the coming weeks?

Storylines to watch for tomorrow

5:00 AM England vs. Iran: This could be a really interesting game. Gareth Southgate’s in charge of an England team that is both confusing and exciting, full of talent and also Harry Maguire. Iran have the oldest team in the tournament, chock full of experience and a manager with plenty of experience of his own in Carlos Queiroz. Still, the things to keep an eye out for in this game are protest-related. England’s players are apparently planning to take a knee, Harry Kane may or may not wear a rainbow OneLove armband despite potential sanctions, and Iranian captain Ehsan Hajsafi has spoken out in support of protesters back home in Iran. There are bigger things than football, and this is an opportunity for those things to take some focus.

Watch the game on FS1, Telemundo, or streaming on and Peacock.

8:00 AM Senegal vs. Netherlands: Senegal managed to claim the Africa Cup of Nations title after taking Egypt to penalties, but they’ll be without star player Sadio Mané, who misses the tournament due to an injury to his fibula that will require surgery. Without their talismanic player, who will step up and carry the team to glory? The task won’t be easy, and starting with the Dutch — likely their toughest opponent of the group stage — could either be a blessing or a curse.

Watch the game on FOX, Telemundo, or streaming on and Peacock.

11:00 AM United States vs. Wales: Jorstian Mordan. Will they see the field? Will they have an impact? If Berhalter wants to win, they should, because no one on the squad has more experience lifting trophies on big stages that those two. Are there other factors that will be more important, or storylines from a Wales side playing in the nation’s first men’s World Cup in 64 years? Yes, certainly, but none of those things are Jorstian Mordan, and they don’t represent the Seattle F***ing Sounders.

Watch the game on FOX, Telemundo, or streaming on and Peacock.

You can catch replays of all games in English on or Spanish on Peacock 30 minutes after the final whistle.

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