A Monumental Year for Football


Preuss’s Girls’ Soccer team practicing on the field.

Nael Alzalde

Football, or Soccer in America has had a monumental year, filled with celebrations, tragedies, new records, which slowly inches us further into a new era of soccer. 

To start off, the biggest tournament in the world. The 2022 FIFA World Cup, which this year was held in Qatar and was very controversial for a lot of reasons. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 saw the biggest amount of money put into a World Cup ever with Qatar spending 200-300 billion on infrastructure projects. Qatar also banned teams from wearing any pride logos or symbols that resemble affection or support of the LGBTQ+ community. Lots of records  were shattered here, with Qatar officially being the worst host country in the sport of Football, losing all 3 matches in the groups stage, including the opening game, which has never been lost by a hosting country before. Japan broke the record for the lowest ever possession rate win, winning against Spain with a 17.7% possession rate. Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the first ever player to score at 5 different world cups alongside as the oldest player to ever score at a World Cup. Lionel Messi went on a rampage with records becoming the first ever player to assist at 5 different world cups, and score a goal in every stage of the World Cup, is the player with the most World Cup appearances with a total of 26 matches, most goals at major tournaments by a South America with 13 at the World Cup at 13 at the Copa America, overtaking Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima or simply referred to as Ronald (R9), most World Cup goal involvements with 13 goals and 8 assists, leaving a total of 21, lastly, Messi is the only player to win two golden ball awards. Kylian Mbappé became the first to score over 8 world cup goals before the age of 24, with a total tally of 12 goals. Mbappé is now also the 2nd person to ever score a hattrick in the World Cup Finals which has not been seen since Geoff Hurst back in 1966 when England beat West Germany. The record for most yellow cards in a World Cup match was broken in Netherlands vs. Argentina with 18 yellow cards being handed out. France suffered their first ever loss to an Arab country in France vs. Tunisia. The first ever hat trick in a World Cup knockout round was broken in Portugal vs. Switzerland by Portugese player Goncalo Ramos. Morocco achieved being the first African and Arab team to advance to the World Cup semi-finals after beating Portugal 1-0. Spain dominated Costa Rica, beating them 7-0 in the groups stage, making it the biggest win in their national team history, also achieving the most passes in a World Cup with an attempted 1043 passes completed at a 94% rate, didn’t concede a single shot, and breaking the record for highest possession in a World Cup game with 81.8% possession. Even more records were broken but just goes to show the magnitude of the year, especially the World Cup.

Messi and Argentina ended up victorious over Kylian Mbappé and France in a shocking 120 minute penalty final. Leaving Messi and Argentina the winners of the World Cup, giving Messi his first ever World Cup and Argentina their third World Cup win. Emiliano Martínez won the golden glove award. Despite the loss, Mbappé won the golden boot award. This World Cup has left Lionel Messi the most decorated player in all of football history, making him arguably the best soccer player of all time, with 42 trophies from club and country. Rumors are going around stating that Messi potentially might even win the Super Ballon D’or which has only ever been handed out to one player, Alfredo Di Stéfano.

There were also plenty of Upsets during the World Cup. Japan beat out both Germany and Spain. Morocco in their advancement to the semi-finals, knocked out Portugal which included fan favorite, Cristiano Ronaldo. Croatia beat out Brazil, eliminating top seed Brazil alongside Neymar Jr.’s run. South Korea beat Portugal during the groups stage, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina during the groups stage, giving Argentina their only loss of the World Cup. Australia eliminated Denmark from the World Cup after a shocking 1-0 loss.

La Liga, the men’s top professional football division of the Spanish football system was won by Real Madrid after a close call between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Argentina won the men’s Copa America 2022 with a 1-0 victory over Brazil. The Copa America being the top men’s football tournament contested among national teams from South America.

However, with success and great games comes tragedy which has struck the football community. Cristiano Ronaldo has been betrayed by Europe, with no clubs willing to sign him, leaving him to go to Saudi Arabian club AL-Nassr to leave his passion behind in order to treat soccer as a business, as have the clubs done to him in the past. However, this will leave Ronaldo as the highest paid player of all time with a pay of 200 million Euros per year but effectively ending his decorated career in Europe. Alongside that, Brazilian football legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or better known as Pelé passed away on December 29th, 2022, after a long and hard fought battle with colon cancer.

With such an eventful year, it leads us to wonder. What will be next for football in these years to come?