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Column 082018 Wall

Monday, August 20, 2018

The World Cup, Mexico, and a Stunning Suit against Televisa

By Allan Wall

A SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT: On August 7th, 2018, Mexican media conglomerate Televisa, which had the rights to the World Cup, was sued by its own stockholders in a New York federal court.  Televisa is accused of spending millions of dollars to bribe a member of the board of FIFA (the world soccer organization) for broadcast rights to the World Cup.  According to the suit, the broadcast rights were not only for the 2018 World Cup, but also for those of 2022, 2026 and 2030.  The bribe, which took place through another company, was allegedly paid out in 2013 to a member of the FIFA board who died the very next year.  All this as there is big money in soccer.

For more information click here and see below.

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The World Cup of Soccer, that quadrennial international soccer tournament, which draws so much attention worldwide, was held in Russia from June 14th to July15th, 2018.

It’s the sports competition with the world’s biggest audience, drawing more viewers than the Olympics.

Even though I’m not much of a soccer fan, I like to follow the World Cup.  The international element is quite interesting.

I like to watch the beginning of each match, when the teams line up, their respective national anthems are played, and the camera pans the players’ faces. 

The World Cup is hard to predict, as the same national team doesn’t win every four years.

The 2018 World Cup was the first to be played in Eastern Europe, and the most expensive ever held, costing US$14.2 billion.

It was the first World Cup to utilize the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system.   The mascot was a wolf called Zabivaka.

Thirty-two national teams competed in 64 matches, played in 12 stadiums in 11 Russian cities.

The United States team was not there as it did not qualify.

The 32 national teams were (arranged by regional federations through which they qualified):

1.    Asian Football Confederation: Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

2.    North America, Central America and Caribbean Federation: Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.

3.    South American Federation: Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Brazil.

4.    European Federation: Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia (which got an automatic qualification as the host nation).

At the beginning of the tournament, the 32 national teams are divided into groups of four. In the first round, each team plays the other three teams in the group.  At the end of this first round (three games per team), two teams from each group are eliminated and two stay in the tournament.  That leaves 16 teams for the second round.

The next round, with the 16 teams, is single elimination. If a team loses, it’s out.

Following the Round of 16 are the quarter-finals, with only eight teams.

By the semi-finals there are four teams left.  These teams are paired off, and the two losing teams take on each other for the third-place playoff.  The next day, the two winning teams play each other for the World Cup championship.

In this year’s World Cup, the final game was France vs. Croatia, played on July 15th in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.  Team France was triumphant, defeating Croatia by a score of 4 to 2. 

It’s disappointing to lose the final match, but really Croatia did quite well. 

In the first place, the country didn’t even exist as an independent nation 30 years ago, having been a part of the old Yugoslavia until its independence in 1991. 

Also consider the respective populations, France has a population of about 70 million in contrast to about 4.2 million in Croatia, giving France a much bigger male population from which to select players.

Looking at the entire history of the World Cup, from the beginning in 1930 to this one, only eight national teams have won it.  They are:

       Brazil, five times

       Germany, four times

       Italy, four times

       Argentina, two times

       Uruguay, two times

       France, two times

       England, one time

       Spain, one time

There are also Individual awards given at the World Cup.  This year the winners were:

       Golden Ball Award (considered best player) - Luka Modric of Croatia

       Golden Boot Award (top scorer) - Harry Kane of England, with 6 goals

       Golden Glove Award (best goalie) - Thibaut Courtois of Belgium

       Best Young Player Award (born on or after January 1st, 1997) - Kylian Mbappe of France

       Spain won the Fair Play Trophy.

The Mexican National Team participated in the 2018 World Cup.  In Russia, its team base camp was located in the city of Khimki, in the Moscow Oblast (Oblast is a Russian word for province).

Team Mexico began in Group F, along with teams from Germany, Sweden and South Korea.

Mexico played four games:

1.    On June 17th, Mexico beat Germany (last year’s World Cup champion) 1 to 0, getting off to a great start.

2.    On June 23rd, Team Mexico beat South Korea 2 to 1.

3.    On June 27th, Mexico was beaten by Sweden 3 to 0, but still qualified for the next round.

4.    On July 2nd, the day after the Mexican presidential election won by AMLO,  Team Mexico was defeated by Brazil 2 to 0 – thus ending Team Mexico’s 2018 World Cup participation.

The World Cup is held every four years, and the next two sites have already been chosen.

The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar, a small but oil-rich emirate in the Persian Gulf, and this will be the first World Cup held in a majority Muslim country, plus the first in the Arab world.

The 2026 World Cup is scheduled to be shared among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Also, the 2026 World Cup is set to expand the number of national teams participating from the current 32 to 48 teams, with 60 matches in 16 cities.  That’s a lot of teams and a lot of matches.

NOTE:  On August 9th, 2018, I was a guest on Silvio Canto Jr.’s Canto Talk program.  We discussed my recent trip to Mexico (see Our 2018 Summer Visit to Mexico), the Mexican election, and AMLO.  The interview lasted about half an hour and you can listen here or here.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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