Sunday, January 29 2023

‘Tis the season for FIFA World Cup soccer. A field of 32 teams step on the stage in Qatar for the first World Cup in the Middle East. This tournament takes place during the winter, rather than the typical summer window, due to the heat of the local climate. Games will also be played in the evening local time.

MORE: 2022 FIFA World Cup Live Scores and Fixtures

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From opening kick to lifting the FIFA World Cup trophy, here are live updates and the latest coverage from Qatar and around the world.

Ecuador commands first half against Qatar, leads 2-0

With two goals from captain Enner Valencia, Ecuador leads host-nation Qatar at halftime. Qatar is 45 minutes away from becoming the first host to lose the opening game.

SCORE: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador

Ecuador doubles lead thanks to Valencia

The Ecuador captain scores his second goal of the game. Video review confirms the tally. Valencia has scored five consecutive World Cup goals for La Tri.

SCORE: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador


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Valencia converts penalty kick for opening Ecuador goal

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia scores 36th career goal, converting a penalty kick against Qatar in the 16th minute. Valencia earned the penalty after Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb tripped the forward, receiving a yellow card.

SCORE: Qatar 0-1 Ecuador


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Ecuador’s opening goal attempt ruled offside

From a free kick hit into the 18-yard box, Ecuador’s Felix Torres acrobatically kicked the ball toward forward Enner Valencia. The all-time leading scorer for Ecuador headed the ball into the back of the net, but the referee ruled it offside after video review and disqualified the goal. It would have been the fastest score in World Cup history.

The offside rule has been a source of innumerable controversial calls in soccer.

FIFA only began allowing World Cup officials the ability to review video replays to confirm calls in 2018. This year it’s rolling out a new semi-automated, offside technology to enhance its Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which was used to rule Valencia’s first goal offside.

SCORE: Qatar 0-0 Ecuador

WHAT IS OFFSIDE IN SOCCER?: Explaining the rule so you’re prepared to watch the 2022 World Cup.


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Every game of the 2022 World Cup on your calendar

USA TODAY Sports provides a one-stop interactive destination for all your 2022 World Cup needs. You’ll find team schedules, television and streaming options, stories, videos, and the ability to build a personalized match schedule to follow your favorite teams.

Nov 20, 2022; Al Bayt, Qatar; Ecuador fans cheer before a group stage match during the 2022 FIFA World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SportsNov 20, 2022; Al Bayt, Qatar; Ecuador fans cheer before a group stage match during the 2022 FIFA World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 20, 2022; Al Bayt, Qatar; Ecuador fans cheer before a group stage match during the 2022 FIFA World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Starting lineups for Qatar vs. Ecuador

Both teams are on the field for warmups. Ecuador fans went nuts when Ecuador was announced; They’re jumping up and down, waving flags and singing. Qatar winger Akram Afif clapped to the fans in the stands as he ran out. — Columnist Nancy Armour at Al Bayt in Qatar

Ecuador’s captain Enner Valencia gets a start. He scored three times in the 2014 World Cup and is the top goalscorer in Turkey’s Süper Lig.


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Biggest controversies surrounding Qatar World Cup, explained

Smaller than Connecticut, what Qatar lacks in size and might, it makes up for in money from oil and natural gas. Which came in handy when Qatari organizers were trying to convince FIFA members of their vision for the first World Cup in the Middle East, columnist Nancy Armour wrote.

Its government has been accused of a laundry list of human rights abuses, including the exploitation and deaths of migrant construction workers and oppression of women and the LGBTQ community.

Its choice as World Cup host was, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said last week, “a mistake.”

Current FIFA president Gianni Infantino held an “airing of grievances” Saturday, “taking aim in a deluded, hypocritical and factually ignorant screed at all those who have criticized soccer’s governing body for putting the World Cup in Qatar,” Armour wrote.

OPINION: FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s screed on Qatar criticisms wrong, inappropriate

REPORT: Abuse of migrant workers at Qatar World Cup stadiums continues despite reforms

MORE: Why is the Qatar World Cup controversial? What to know about LGBTQ issues, heat and booze.


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World Cup Opening Ceremony

The tournament begins with a first-of-its-kind opening ceremony reminiscent of the Olympics and features American actor Morgan Freeman.

Creative director Marco Balich, a veteran of multiple Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, told The Associated Press that he has been working for a year on a 30-minute show.

“The supreme committee wanted to create a real show, which FIFA is not accustomed to,” Balich said in a phone interview from Doha, referring to Qatar’s local organizing committee.

The extravagant ceremony was one of the reasons why in August the World Cup start was moved up a day in a late switch — to give the show a more prominent viewing slot.

MORE: Morgan Freeman delivers speech during Olympic-style World Cup opening ceremony

Contributing: Associated Press


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What’s on tap? Not beer

Alcoholic beer will no longer be sold at or around the World Cup stadiums in Qatar in a stunning about-face only days before the tournament begins.

FIFA and Qatari officials had initially compromised on beer sales, deciding alcoholic beer would be sold only within the stadium perimeter before and after games and not within the stadium itself – similar to how fans can tailgate outside some college stadiums but not purchase beer once they go inside. Non-alcoholic beer was to be sold, and still will be sold, on the stadium concourses.

That is no longer the case.

OPINION: FIFA, Qatar both get what they deserve with World Cup beer debacle

MORE: Qatar officials ban beer from World Cup stadiums two days before tournament begins

Scenes from Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar

USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour is in Qatar at Al Bayt Stadium for Qatar vs. Ecuador.

“Roughly two hours before kickoff, and the Ecuador fans are already in raucous form,” Armour said. “There’s a large group behind one of the goals and they’re singing, chanting and waving flags.”

Meanwhile, big cheer went up in stadium when jumbotrons showed the Qatari team getting off the bus.

Scenes from outside Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar ahead of the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.Scenes from outside Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar ahead of the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.
Scenes from outside Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar ahead of the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.

USMNT names Tyler Adams captain

U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter named midfielder Tyler Adams as his captain throughout the World Cup. Adams, 23, is the youngest player to captain the USMNT at a World Cup since 1950. He has worn the armband nine times out of his 32 caps.

“We’re proud to announce Tyler as the captain for the World Cup. We think he has great leadership capabilities,” Berhalter said at a press conference Sunday. “He leads by his actions and his words, so we’re proud to have him as a captain.”

MORE: Tyler Adams named USMNT captain for the World Cup

Contributing: Pro Soccer Wire


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Who will win the World Cup?

Reigning champion France will attempt to do something only Italy and Brazil have done before — win back-to-back FIFA men’s World Cup trophies. But the path to victory won’t be easy, star midfielders Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante will miss the tournament due to injury. Ballon d’Or winner and French forward Karim Benzema, 34, injured his leg in training this week and will also miss the remainder of the tournament.

MORE: French star Karim Benzema out of World Cup with leg injury

Here’s who USA TODAY Network reporters think will come out champions (disclaimer: picks made before the news of Benzema’s injury):

Qatar vs. Ecuador — 11 a.m. ET

Time: Sunday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. ET

Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar

How to watch: FS1 and Telemundo or stream on fuboTV and Peacock

Qatar continues the tradition of host nations kicking off the tournament when they face Group A opponent Ecuador. In nearly a century of World Cup opening games, eight hosts have played in the first game — and none have lost. Outmatched on paper, Qatar is playing in its first-ever World Cup.

While Qatar automatically qualified for the tournament by way of being host, Ecuador won games against South American powerhouse teams Colombia and Uruguay during the qualifying process.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World Cup begins: Live updates as Qatar-Ecuador open tournament

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