Just a couple of months ago we were heading into the World Cup in Russia with loads of fears and concerns; is there going to be violence and unrest amongst the locals and visiting fans? Will this be a boring tournament? Will VAR be a success or a hinderance? Now the World Cup has been and gone we can ask ourselves, why were we worried in the first place?
Many people, myself included, had reservations going into this tournament, with fears that the focus would be more off the field then on it. From watching people’s first vlogs out in Russia and reading journalists’ initial reports, to chatting to locals in England, the majority had a concern about there being a hostile environment and violence being the biggest talking point.
However, this was not the case. In fact quite the opposite. As the tournament progressed it was clear how comfortable visiting supporters were in Russia, and how welcoming the locals had been. There was a lack of support for countries from Western Europe, perhaps due to the scare stories the media were releasing prior to June 10th, but the fans who were out there seemed to forget those fears and soon realised that we are all the same really; passionate football fans. Despite the leaders from the host country and other nations being controversial and perhaps not always having the best interests in heart, the footballing world brushed that aside and came together to support one of the best World Cups in years, certainly the best one I’ve seen in my life time.
On the pitch we were treated to an absolutely wonderful World Cup, witnessing 169 goals, a whole host of brilliant finishes and dramatic games, whilst we only had one 0-0 game! We saw the giants fall early; Germany in the group stages and the likes of Spain, Argentina and Portugal in the last 16. The hosts defied the odds to make it to the quarter-finals, whilst Croatia, with a population of only 4 million, made it all the way to the final!
This was also the first ever World Cup to have VAR involved, and for me it was a success. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s perfect, there is still a long way to go to progress this new process and we did have some situations (Kompany tackle v Gabriel Jesus, Ivan Perisic handball v France) where, after VAR review, the referees decision was debatable. However, overall I feel like VAR is the way forward, it made right a lot of wrongs, gave the officials a chance to look at the decisions they have made, and ultimately we are getting the correct calls.
“We said we wanted this to be the best World Cup ever and it’s been the best World Cup ever. A crucial role in this achievement was played by the referees who excelled with performances of the highest standard,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
On a personal note I thoroughly enjoyed this World Cup, that’s mainly down to how well England did and how much of a buzz it created in this country (I will be looking at England’s World Cup in more detail in a future article) but also because I am a true football fan and having a month of football, with games nearly every day is my dream. To sum up, Russia you did well. Very well. You hosted a record breaking, nail biting, drama-filled World Cup that everybody loved. Спасибо.