Fans have lined up to get their first taste of beers in Qatar, with one describing it as the taste of “freedom”.
Meanwhile, some World Cup teams are set to defy one of FIFA’s orders when actions get underway on the field.
Read on for the latest from the World Cup Daily!
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FANS GIVE FROTHY WELCOME TO FIRST WORLD CUP BEERS
Thousands of football fans queued Saturday to get the first beers served at the official World Cup fan zone after sales were banned around stadiums in Islamic Qatar.
Twenty-four hours from the football tournament’s opening match, Juan Alvarez emerged from the Budweiser stand with a big grin on his face, balancing 12 plastic goblets of beer on three trays.
Alvarez brushed aside the $13.50 price for one half-litre, and came out just in time to see the first of the spectacular firework displays that host Qatar is putting on for fans each day.
“I will drink at least three of these myself,” the 37-year-old Mexican fan told AFP.
“The fireworks and lasers are great, but you cannot have a World Cup without beer.” With official tournament security watching, some thirsty fans waited an hour for the stand to open.
Three hundred staff were waiting to serve the 2,000 people in line, breaking into dances and Mexican waves to entertain the queues.
Qatar has been a troublesome new test for FIFA’s alcohol policies. In 2014, the international football federation had to pressure Brazil to ease a ban on stadium beer sales before the World Cup there.
Drinking alcohol in public is illegal in Qatar and sales are normally restricted to a government store and about 35 hotel and restaurant bars.
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The fan zone in the capital Doha opened a day after Qatar and FIFA banned beer around the eight World Cup stadiums.
The surprise move was the talk of the queues.
“This is a country of rules,” said Bangladeshi Mohammed Nisar after spending more than $50 on four beers.
The fan zone beer store, he said, was “freedom”.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino earlier played down the significance of restricting beer.
“For me personally, if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,” he told a press conference.
“If this is the biggest issue we have for the World Cup then I will sign (off) immediately and go to the beach and relax until December 18.”
Infantino said that Budweiser, which paid FIFA a reported $75 million for a four-year sponsorship deal, had renewed it until 2026, taking the beer brand to the next World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Fans react to Qatar’s World Cup beer ban | 02:00
Donna Alvarez, one of many fans wearing Mexico shirts in the fan zone, agreed that beer alone should not decide whether a country should host the World Cup.
“But if it is here, we will drink it and probably come back for more,” she told AFP.
Some fans groaned at the prices in the fan zone and in the few other venues that sell beer, which can go for more than $15 at one of Doha’s luxury hotels.
“It is one month, we will have to put up with,” said one Briton.
WORLD CUP TEAMS TO DEFY FIFA DEMAND
FIFA proposed a series of alternative armbands featuring different social campaigns on Saturday in response to plans by European teams to wear “OneLove” rainbow armbands at the Qatar World Cup.
European teams launched the “OneLove” initiative in response to the treatment of LGBTQ communities in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.
FIFA though has requested that all captains wear a different armband on each match day, promoting social messages such as “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.
“Each round of matches will be associated with its own dedicated campaign designed to maximise reach and impact,” FIFA said in a statement.
The move puts football’s world governing body on a potential collision course with teams such as Germany, whose captain Manuel Neuer said he would still wear a “OneLove” armband to promote diversity and inclusion.
“Other European nations are wearing (the armband) and it is good we are doing it together,” Neuer said on Saturday.
Denmark’s Christian Eriksen said his country’s captain Simon Kjaer would be wearing the rainbow armband too, regardless of any disciplinary action taken by FIFA.
“We as a country are wearing it, our captain will be wearing the OneLove armband,” Eriksen said.
“What the consequences will be I don’t know, but we’ll see.” England’s Football Association are also believed to be ready to support the “OneLove” campaign regardless and are understood to be seeking clarity on whether the rainbow armband and the FIFA ones can be worn together.
Contacted by AFP, FIFA did not respond.
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‘NOTHING TO DO WITH ME’: TEAMMATE QUASHES RONALDO QUESTION
Bernardo Silva insisted the atmosphere around Portugal’s World Cup camp was “top, top, top,” despite mounting controversy generated by Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent interview in England.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner and all-time top international goalscorer in men’s football Ronaldo lashed out at his club Manchester United and coach Erik ten Hag earlier this week when speaking to TalkTV.
Questions about Ronaldo dominated Silva’s press conference and the Manchester City midfielder was not keen to respond in depth, although he did say the forward was focused and motivated.
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“The news from England has nothing to do with the national team,” said Silva.
“It also has nothing to do with me, so I won’t comment. I’m not a Manchester United player, even if I were, I wouldn’t answer. They’re a rival club, it’s nothing to do with me.”
However, repeatedly asked about Ronaldo and whether there was any tension in the camp after he appeared to share a frosty interaction with club team-mate Bruno Fernandes, Silva responded.
“I don’t see any strange atmosphere in our team between Cristiano and another player,” he said.
“It is his matter that he has to resolve individually with the right person.” “I a motivated and focused Ronaldo, like everyone else, and he is another player here to help our country and the national team.
“There is a lot of talk about this topic, but we have a World Cup to play. I don’t understand the persistence because there is nothing there.” Portugal shone in their 4-1 win over Nigeria without Ronaldo, but Silva said it was normal that the team could function well without their talisman.
“He’s part of the team, obviously, but when he’s not there, we know how to respond. Whenever he wasn’t there, we responded well. We’re ready.
“There are 26 of us, it doesn’t matter if it’s one person or another (playing).”
Ronaldo is set to appear at his fifth World Cup and Euro 2016 winners Portugal open their campaign against Ghana on November 24, before facing Uruguay and South Korea.
‘VERY SPECIAL’: ERIKSEN’S COMEBACK A FEEL-GOOD STORY
Christian Eriksen says it is “very special” to be back at the World Cup as he seeks to complete a remarkable comeback from his cardiac arrest during the European Championship last year.
The playmaker collapsed on the pitch against Finland in June 2021 and had to be resuscitated in front of a stunned Copenhagen crowd and a television audience of millions.
On the way to hospital he told his wife Sabrina that he would probably never play football again but he was back in action eight months later.
The 30-year-old had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which meant he had to quit Inter Milan due to rules in Italy.
But he signed for Brentford in the Premier League and also resumed his international career.
“It’s very special to be at a World Cup for your national team,” said Eriksen, who is now at Manchester United.
“It’s something I’ve tried before and I’m very happy to be back again.
“It (the collapse) gave me an appreciation of being alive and being with my family. I think everything else has just moved to the side.”
Denmark, who face Tunisia on Tuesday, will also come up against world champions France in Group D and will fancy their chances after beating Les Bleus home and away in the Nations League earlier this year.
With their talisman back in top form Denmark look an even stronger proposition than the side that was only narrowly eliminated from Euro 2020, in the semi-finals, by England.
“For me personally being part of the team is always good,” said Eriksen.
“I hope I can help the team as much as I can in any way.
“I know we’ve beaten France but normally France in a tournament is a different team compared to the rest of the year. We know what to do and we look forward to it.
“The national team has always been strong. I do think the belief in the squad and from you guys, the fans, was bigger when I came back from the fall.” Denmark’s assistant coach Morten Wieghorst said Eriksen was an “inspiration” for his teammates and the rest of his country.
“In my view he’s been even better than he was before the accident,” Wieghorst said. “I really do believe that he’s become an even better player, if that was possible.”
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‘EXTREMELY DIFFICULT’: ENGLAND GUN SAYS CUP HAS BEEN TARNISHED
England defender Eric Dier admits his experience of the World Cup has been tarnished by the controversy surrounding host nation Qatar.
With England’s opening game against Iran just two days away, Dier would usually have been quizzed about his team’s World Cup challenge when he faced the media on Saturday.
But instead the 28-year-old, playing in his second World Cup, was peppered with questions about the host of issues involving Qatar that have overshadowed the build-up to the tournament.
To his credit, the erudite Dier didn’t shirk the potential public relations minefield.
He tackled the deaths of migrant workers during World Cup construction projects, the late decision to ban alcohol from most areas of stadiums and the row over whether or not team captains will wear ‘OneLove’ rainbow armbands.
“It’s extremely difficult for us as players. We know these topics are going to be addressed,” Dier told reporters at England’s training camp in Doha.
“A lot of things have already happened, things that are very disappointing. They will always be on my mind.
“In the building of the stadiums for example. Obviously that’s a terrible situation.
“Of course it’s taken a lot away (from the tournament), because we are sitting here talking about it instead of the football. But we can’t hide from it. It’s here. It would be wrong to ignore it.”
On the decision by FIFA and Qatari officials to ban alcohol from stadiums, except in hospitality areas for high-paying spectators, Dier said: “Personally I’d like to think you can enjoy yourself without alcohol.
“It’s up to us on the pitch to provide the entertainment. That’s what is going to create the atmosphere in the stadiums.”
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England captain Harry Kane is still set to wear a ‘OneLove’ armband against discrimination despite FIFA announcing plans for its own armband in a country where same-sex relationships are criminalised.
FIFA confirmed its armbands would be worn as part of a partnership with United Nations agencies.
But the Football Association, who are understood to be seeking clarity on whether the armbands can be worn together, are believed to be ready to support the ‘OneLove’ campaign regardless Such divisive topics can take players out of their comfort zone and Dier said: “We are footballers, not politicians. When the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, I was 16 at the time.
“Those decisions are made by people way above us. We’re the ones who end up sitting here having to answer these questions. As a team we won’t change our principles and values.” Despite all the controversy, Dier is still happy to be at the World Cup after he was left of the England squad that finished as European Championship runners-up last year.
“When I missed out on the Euros squad it was one of the worst moments of my career. I was extremely motivated to get back in and be here at the World Cup,” he said.
“We are all human. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that it was a possibility I wouldn’t go. Those thoughts go through your mind.
“In many ways it was good for me. It propelled me to play the best football of my career.”