It was the day football fans had been waiting for.
Wales in their 64th World Cup; England getting their campaign underway with the genuine hope of ending 56 years of pain.
Both can be satisfied by their opening salvos: Gareth Southgate’s men beating Iran to the top of the group. Then Wales fights back from behind to earn an advantage against the USA.
This World Cup is not your typical tournament. It’s only 24 hours old and there has been more drama on the pitch than it has so far.
The decision to prohibit captains from wearing OneLove armband , a gesture of solidarity and support for the LGBTQ+ community, came too late in the day. It was only three hours before England started.
The frustration of both the English and Welsh managers was evident, but they ultimately felt that they had no other choice.
App issues leave fans stuck outside
Just 15 minutes before the game began, thousands were still waiting outside Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium.
The World Cup app crashed and their digital tickets disappeared.
Others sat outside, while others watched the match on their smartphones.
Extremely brave Iranian protest
The OneLove armbands may have been replaced by FIFA-sanctioned versions, but that didn’t keep politics out of football.
England’s players knelt as they promised, just as they did throughout Euro 2020. The Iranian team, however, refused to sing the national anthem.
This was a courageous move that they took as a group to support the protests at home. We found out that the two had spoken together about what they wanted to do last week.
They are well-known in Iran, a country that is football-mad and just across the Gulf of Qatar. Their presence in the stadium was not unnoticed and they might be punished when they return.
This is a very heavy burden on young shoulders.
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Fans from Wales were barred from entering the stadium
More controversy hours later.
Fans from Wales wearing rainbow-coloured clothing were barred from the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium. One of them was Laura McAllister (ex-Wales national football captain), who was wearing a rainbow bucket cap.
McAllister, now a Cardiff University professor, wrote on Twitter: “So, in spite of fine words from FIFA World Cup prior event, Cymru Rainbow Bucket hats were confiscated at stadium, mine included.”
“I had a discussion about this with stewards. We have video evidence. We will not only continue to stand for our values, but this World Cup 2022 gets better.”
FIFA has apologized to one but has not yet provided any explanation as to why they were denied entry.
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It could not have been better for England on the pitch. Southgate will be disappointed by the two goals conceded by his team, but it was a great start to six.
Wales fans will draw after a disappointing first half. They had hope after a late Gareth Bale penalty, but it’s still all up for them in Group A.
Next Tuesday will see the final group match between the two home countries – a fixture that has already sparked interest.
Tuesday will see Lionel Messi’s Argentina face Saudi Arabia. Holders France will then take on Australia.