Soccer news and views:
NEWS: England and Germany are always big names when it comes to the World Cup. But a recent 3-3 tie between the countries in a UEFA Nations League group stage match at Wembley Stadium in London in their final competitive game before the World Cup didn’t leave their supporters feeling very confident.
VIEWS: Based on this game, each team is going to have to shore up a leaky defense to make a serious run at the World Cup championship and join Brazil and France among the heavy favorites. England appears particularly vulnerable. Including the tie with Germany, it has failed to win its last six competitive games. That happened only twice before (1925-27, 1958) in the team’s history.
All six goals in the England-Germany game were scored in the second half, and each team lost a lead. England has some great goal-scorers, but getting them the ball in dangerous spots also has been a problem. As for Germany, it can only hope that a solid corps of goaltenders will shore up its problems on defense. Manuel Neuer, the team’s No. 1 goalie and owner of 113 caps, didn’t play against England because he tested positive for COVID-19 and was in quarantine.
Goalie Marc-Andre Ter Stegen played well in the first half against England, keeping the game scoreless at halftime. He didn’t have much chance to stop two of England’s three second-half goals, including a penalty kick by Harry Kane. England’s World Cup group matches are against Iran (Nov. 21), the United States (Nov. 25), and Wales (Nov. 29). Germany will face Japan (Nov. 23), Spain (Nov. 27), and Costa Rica (Dec. 1) in its group games.
Do you feel a draft?
NEWS: Reuters news service reported that Qatar has told hundreds of Qatari citizens, including diplomats in foreign countries, that they must join the country’s military to work at security checkpoints at World Cup stadiums. Those who were drafted are being trained to work security lines to detect alcohol, drugs, and weapons.
VIEWS: This is what happens when a small country is selected to host one of the world’s biggest — and longest — sports competitions. Qatar doesn’t have the resources to safely stage the 29-day World Cup, so it had to resort to this measure, and get Turkey to supply 3,000 riot police. Qatar’s population is 2.8 million. About 1.2 million fans are expected to watch World Cup games in the country. The military draft isn’t an anomaly in Qatar. Qatari men ages 18 to 35 are required to undergo four months of military training or face a year in prison and a fine of $13,700 in equivalent U.S. dollars.
NEWS: Xavier Arreaga, a defender for Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders from Ecuador, got in hot water recently for sharing a political cartoon from the Instagram account of a Christian rapper on his Instagram page. The cartoon shows a television brainwashing children while their parents are silenced and held against a wall. The brainwashing is apparently about gender identity. Rainbow-colored waves are entering children’s brains. Arreaga took down the post and apologized, but the damage was done. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer was among those who expressed their disappointment in Arreaga’s judgment.
VIEWS: When will some professional athletes learn that their voices are louder than most people, and they need to be very careful what they are doing on social media? Having opinions is fine. Reposting a disturbing image like was shown in the cartoon steps over the line.