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A World Cup of disappointments: US vs. Wales

Photo credit: Google open source

The United States had not played in a World Cup in eight years, and the youngest squad in the tournament showed their fearlessness as they played Wales in their opening group match of the 2022 Qatar World Cup on Monday.  

22-year-old forward Timothy Weah opened the scoring in the thirty-sixth minute during a dominating first-half display from the U.S.  

Weah was the first player since Pele to score against the Welsh, who hadn’t played in the tournament since 1958. The assist came from U.S. superstar Christian Pulisic, who plays for Premier League side Chelsea. 

Substitutions from Wales in the second half saw them take control of the game. The U.S. lost their energy and momentum, and a mistake from defender Walker Zimmerman, who plays for Nashville SC, cost them their lead.  

Zimmerman fouled Welsh captain and LA Galaxy forward Gareth Bale in the eightieth minute inside the penalty box, and the Welshman tucked the penalty away just out of reach of goalkeeper Matt Turner. 

A win would have seated the U.S. second in their group after England thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier in the day.  

However, the disappointments stretch beyond what’s happening on the pitch. Hours before England were set to kick off their match against Iran, FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, announced that captains who decide to wear non-approved armbands were risking sporting sanctions. 

England, Wales, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland had planned for months to wear the OneLove armband during the tournament which promoted inclusion, opposed discrimination and highlighted the issues surrounding the Qatar World Cup. 

Human Rights Watch activists have criticized Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers, from inhumane working and living conditions to employers withholding pay and taking away their passports. 

Since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, 6,500 migrant workers have been documented to have died constructing the infrastructure necessary to hold the tournament.  

The other issue that the OneLove armband would have highlighted is Qatar’s discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. 

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and is punishable by up to seven years in prison. While Qatar has promoted inclusivity by saying “Everyone is welcome to Qatar,” fears that the Islamic nation will backtrack on more of its promises have been ever present. 

On a weekend when another deadly shooting against the LGBTQ+ community was seen in Colorado Springs, a gesture as small as wearing an armband to show solidarity was needed more than ever. However, the captains of the seven nations did not want to risk the sanction of receiving a yellow card. 

The U.S. plays England next on Friday, Nov. 25, and finishes their group against Iran on Tuesday, Nov. 29 with both matches kicking off at 2 p.m. EST on Fox. 

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