Kicking Off With Controversy


Photo licensed via Wikicommons

Jackson Coddington, Reporter

One in seven of the viewers of this year’s World Cup final between France and Argentina tuned into the largest sporting event in the world. With over a billion viewers worldwide, the World Cup final eclipses even the Super Bowl, winning nearly five times its viewership. And it did not disappoint, being touted as the greatest World Cup final in history, as Lionel Messi’s Argentina beat Kylian Mbappe’s France 4-2 in penalties. Given the event’s immense popularity, it was almost inevitable that it would touch the hearts and eyes of Lodi High School students.

The World Cup, which was held in Qatar in early November 2022, was the topic of discussion, but not of the football variety. The tournament was surrounded by allegations of not only corruption in FIFA but also human rights abuses by workers building stadiums in Qatar and anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Despite this initial onslaught of criticism, much of it died down once the games began. Lodi High School student and soccer team captain Andrew Smith said, “Obviously, any human rights violations are horrible, and FIFA is incredibly corrupt; however, I still watched and enjoyed the games.”

On the pitch, there were several major stories, but none more significant than the swan songs of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Because they are widely regarded as the two best footballers of all time, all eyes were on them as they took the field in what will most likely be their final World Cup. Unfortunately for Ronaldo, the tournament featured both stunning victories and humiliating defeats as Messi dominated. Argentina triumphed for the first time, while Portugal was eliminated in the quarterfinals with Ronaldo on the bench. On this momentous occasion, Andrew remarked, “While in my opinion, Messi is the GOAT and Ronaldo is washed, both are legends in their own right, and it will be sad to see them go.”

As for the United States, our performance has left many fans hopeful for the future, as for many, they exceeded expectations by making it out of the group stage with a 1-0 victory over Iran and 0-0 and 1-1 ties to Wales and England, respectively, before losing to the Netherlands in the round of 16 by a score of 3-1. Despite the loss, Andrew was optimistic for the future, stating, “I was extremely proud of my team for getting out of the group stage. The (Christian) Pulisic goal vs. Iran is a memory I will never forget.”

Then, to cap off an exciting World Cup, there will be what many are calling the greatest World Cup final in history. It felt as though an unstoppable force met an immovable object when top-ranked Argentina met reigning champion France. What resulted was a thrilling 3-3 (4-2) Argentina victory. Overall, the 2022 World Cup was delivered politically on the field in a contentious manner.