Messi equal to Maradona
After 36 years of waiting, 120 minutes and a penalty shootout: Argentina won their third star against defending champions France.
Lionel Messi, who was not born when Diego Maradona conquered the second in 1986, joins the idol at the top of world football.
Perched on the shoulders of former international and ex-son-in-law of "Pibe de Oro" Sergio Agüero, Messi brandishes the World Cup with his left hand.
The image obviously recalls the legendary shot of Maradona carried in triumph to the Atzeca stadium in Mexico City.
Seven goals, including two scored in a memorable final in more ways than one, an attitude of leader finally fully assumed, Messi guided the Albiceleste to the crown, like Maradona before him.
At 35, he won the only trophy he lacked.
"As his trajectory deserved," King Pelé dubbed him in a message after the final.
Mbappé, futile revolt
Two penalties, an anthology goal and a successful shot on goal: Kylian Mbappé did everything well at the end of the final, but could not prevent the Argentinian coronation.
Star striker of the France team Kylian Mabppé, inconsolable on the bench, after Argentina's coronation in the final, at the Lusail stadium, on December 18, 2022 in Doha © FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Crowned world champion at the age of 20 in 2018, the star striker of the France team finished top scorer in the 2022 edition with eight goals.
A trophy that he went to get the soul in pain on the podium, after having waited alone, slumped on the bench, staring into space.
If Mbappé had to leave his club teammate, Lionel Messi, the privilege of lifting the World Cup, his hat-trick and his attitude as a leader contributed to making this final a legend.
"We will be back," he has already promised.
For the first World Cup in the Arab world, union is essential.
Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, (2nd left) makes a speech next to former Emir of Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (left), FIFA President Gianni Infantino (2nd right) and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, before the opening match of the 2022 World Cup between Qatar and Ecuador at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, November 20, 2022 © MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP
During the opening ceremony, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is honored in the official gallery.
The Emir of Qatar, Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, then sported a green scarf, the color of the Saudi selection.
Two strong symbols as the two countries only resumed diplomatic relations in January 2021, after a three-year estrangement.
The Palestinian cause was also invited to the stadiums, with many supporters and players of Morocco displaying the flag of Palestine alongside that of their country.
Amid heavy criticism in Western countries of Qatar's human rights record, whether it's migrant workers or LGBT+ people, German players mime being gagged during official photo of their first match against Japan (1-2).
Germany players cover their mouths before their World Cup 2022 match against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022 © Ina Fassbender / AFP
Their objective: to remind that human rights are "not negotiable", while Fifa threatened them with punishment if they wore the inclusive "One Love" armband.
All under the eyes of the president of the governing body of world football, Gianni Infantino, who had called on everyone to "focus on football".
"Save Ukraine" on the front of the t-shirt, message of "respect" for Iranian women on the back and rainbow flag in hand: politics invites itself to the field for a few seconds when a man bursts onto the lawn in full Portugal-Uruguay.
Quickly evacuated, the Italian, accustomed to this type of intrusion, will be excluded from the World Cup stadiums.
Mario Ferri, 35, wearing a t-shirt with the message "Respect for Iranian women" invades the field carrying a rainbow flag during the 2022 World Cup match between Portugal and Uruguay at the stadium of Lusail, November 28, 2022 © Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
Several Western politicians also wore the colors of the LGBT+ community in the stands, like French Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, wearing a royal blue polo shirt with rainbow sleeves during the quarter final France-England (2-1).
Homosexuality, like sex outside marriage, is criminalized in Qatar.
It was not the headset problem at the end of the game, when validating the fourth German goal against Costa Rica (4-2), which ruined her evening: without a false note, Stéphanie Frappart became the first woman to lead a match of a men's World Cup, at the end of the group stage.
German striker Niclas Fuellkrug (right) awaits the decision from French referee Stephanie Frappart after he scored his team's fourth goal during the 2022 World Cup match against Costa Rica at Al-Bayt Stadium, in Al Khor, December 1, 2022 © Glyn KIRK / AFP
The 38-year-old Frenchwoman was one of the three women selected among the 36 outfield referees of this World Cup, along with Rwandan Salima Mukansanga and Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita.
Prostrate before their home crowd after beating Spain in the round of 16 (0-0, 3 pens to 0), the Moroccans delivered a remarkable run and galvanized the Arab world.
Moroccan players celebrate their qualification against Spain, in the round of 16 of the World Cup, on December 6, 2022 in Doha © MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP/Archives
Also winners of Belgium (2-0) during the group stage and Portugal in the quarter (1-0), Walid Regragui's men became the first African and Arab team to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, before seeing their dream shattered on France, defending champion (2-0 defeat).
They will play for third place against Croatia on Saturday (4:00 p.m.).
Between the Argentinians and the Dutch, during a quarter-final punctuated by 18 yellow cards (ten for the former and eight for the latter) and a red for the Dutchman Denzel Dumfries, the tension rose crescendo until the penalty shootout .
Moment of tension between Dutch and Argentinian players, during a quarter-final of the World Cup, December 13, 2022 in Doha © Odd ANDERSEN / AFP
According to Lionel Messi's teammates, the Oranje have not stopped trying to destabilize the Argentinian shooters, who hastened to chamber the opponent once the victory was sealed (2-2, 4 tab to 3).
Fifa has announced the opening of disciplinary proceedings against the two selections.
"I am psychologically destroyed. It was surely the defeat that hurt me the most, which caused me to be paralyzed for ten minutes after the match, after which I burst into tears without being able to stop ".
This is how Neymar told on Instagram his amazement and then his pain after the elimination against Croatia in the quarter-finals (0-0, 1-1, 4 tab to 2).
Brazilian star Neymar (D) inconsolable after the elimination of Seleçao in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, against Croatia, on December 9, 2022 in Doha © Adrian DENNIS / AFP / Archives
At 30, the playing master of Brazil cast doubt on his future in the selection, saying he needed to "reflect".
Unlike Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo did not drag on the field after the defeat against Morocco (1-0) in the quarter-finals.
In the wake of the final whistle, he fled the pitch in tears.
The star of Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo takes the lead with both hands after the elimination of his selection by Morocco in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, December 10, 2022 © MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP / Archives
Sad end to a bitter World Cup: against Switzerland in the eighth round (6-1 victory) then against the Moroccans, "CR7" (37) started on the bench, a sign that a generation shift is underway within the Selecao.
He will still have made history in Qatar, becoming the first player to score at least one goal in five different World Cups.
© 2022 AFP