Julian Alvarez Scores First-Ever World Cup Goal to Help Lead Argentina into the Round of 16

It’s a special World Cup first for Julian Alvarez.

The 22-year-old Argentine professional footballer, nicknamed “La Araña,” scored his first FIFA World Cup goal on Wednesday during Argentina’s Group C 2-0 win against Poland.

Julian Alvarez, Alvarez and Alexis Mac Allister’s second-half goals at Stadium 974 in Qatar helped Argentina advance to the last 16.

Great news for the Argentina team, which was shocked by Saudi Arabia in their group opener, in their quest for a first World Cup title since 1986.

“It’s so emotional for me, for the whole squad. It’s a dream come true,” Mac Allister told reporters. “I debuted with this team, I’m so proud of that. And now managing to score in a World Cup. I’m so happy.

“[After Messi’s penalty miss] we tried to stay positive, to stay calm. We did not feel down. We tried to be optimistic. Fortunately we managed to win and go through.”

Despite being thoroughly outplayed through the 90 minutes, Poland also snuck into the knockout round in second place thanks to a superior goal difference over Mexico and will face Group D winners France on Sunday.

Argentina is set to face Australia on Saturday with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.

Lionel Messi, meantime, was playing in his 22nd game at the World Cup — and 999th of his career for club and country — breaking a tie with Diego Maradona for the most by an Argentine in the world’s biggest tournament.

Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Messi penalty that was awarded by VAR as Argentina dominated the first 45 minutes but had nothing to show for it with the halftime score 0-0.

Szczesny had been kept busy the entire half with the Poland defence breached time and again, but the Juventus keeper stood firm to deny the Argentines who grew more confident with every attack.

He first denied Alvarez, who broke through the offside trap before he tipped Angel Di Maria‘s cross over the bar when his Juve teammate attempted to score directly from a corner kick.

The opener for Argentina came right after the restart when Brighton striker Mac Allister redirected a Nahuel Molina cross with a first-time shot that trickled past Szczesny and off the far post.

Manchester City teenager Alvarez announced himself on the world stage and doubled Argentina’s lead midway through the second half, picking up a pass from Enzo Fernandez in the penalty area and lashing a shot past Szczesny to all but secure the three points.

With Poland’s spot in the round of 16 looking like it could come down to a fair play (yellow and red card accumulation) tiebreaker with Mexico, Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz had instructed his players to avoid unnecessary bookings as the match wore on.

“I didn’t tell players to take their foot off the ball, but I did tell them to avoid silly bookings,” Michniewicz told a news conference. “We even talked about the yellow cards for those on the bench, because it was only before the match, after the meeting with the delegate, when we learned that cards awarded to players on the bench do not count for the fair play classification.

“We were afraid that one of the players would jump out, or the coach, and would get booked and therefore we might not advance further. But I also asked that we do not provoke, not pull their shirts, not argue with the referee.”

Neuza Back to Form Part of Historic All-Woman Refereeing Team at World Cup

Neuza Back is about to make FIFA World Cup history…

The Brazilian referee, Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Stephanie Frappart will become the first all-women refereeing team for a men’s World Cup match as they have been named to take charge of the Costa Rica-Germany Group E match on Thursday, FIFA has announced.

Neuza BackFrappart, the fourth official for the Poland-Mexico Group C clash last week, will be the main referee as she reaches another milestone after being the first female to officiate at a men’s World Cup qualifier in March and Champions League match in 2020.

Neuza and Diaz will serve as assistants.

Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yamashita Yoshimi of Japan are also taking part at the tournament in Qatar.

Gavi Becomes One of the Youngest Goal Scorers in FIFA World Cup History

Gavi has kicked his way in to the World Cup history books…

The 18-year-old Spanish midfielder has become the third-youngest goal scorer in FIFA World Cup history and youngest since Brazil legend Pele in 1958 with his 74th-minute strike in a 7-0 win against Costa Rica on Wednesday.

GaviWhen he stepped on the field to start the game, the Barcelona prodigy also became the youngest player (18 years, 110 days) to appear for Spain in a major international tournament (World Cup or European Championship).

“I never dreamed to be here at this age,” Gavi said through an interpreter. “I’m so happy to be here. This is only one step. I need to keep going.”

Pele was aged 17 years, 249 days when he scored in Brazil’s 1958 World Cup final win over Sweden. He holds the record for the youngest to score in a World Cup when scoring 10 days earlier in the quarterfinals.

Mexico‘s Manuel Rosas is the second-youngest scorer, aged 18 years and 93 days when finding the net in the inaugural 1930 tournament.

Spain led 4-0 when a driving run from Alejandro Balde pierced the Costa Rica defense and after goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ partial clearance, Alvaro Morata found Gavi on a late-arriving run.

The teenager struck it with the outside of his right boot and it deflected in off the right post in what was one of the most impressive displays of skill in the tournament so far.

His overall contribution earned him FIFA‘s player of the match award.

“It was a great game. We started from the first minute to win this game and I’m really happy,” Gavi said. “Now I’m waiting for the next one. I’m really happy to win MVP but today we all did a really great game and I’m really happy for all of them.

“I know I’m the youngest in the team and I respect everyone, but on the field it’s different and I bring out my best. I’m proud to be in that podium.”

It was a historically dominant win for Spain, who didn’t allow a single shot and recorded the most passes (1,043) and highest possession percentage (81.3) in a World Cup match since at least 1966.

Spain’s victory was the most lopsided win at a World Cup since Portugal beat North Korea 7-0 in 2010.

Maluma Teaming Up with Nicki Minaj & Myriam Fares to Release New World Cup Anthem “Tukoh Taka”

Maluma is getting into the World Cup spirit…

The 28-year-old Colombian singer, songwriter and actor is joining voices with Nicki Minaj and Lebanese artist Myriam Fares to release a new official World Cup anthem this Friday, November 18, according to FIFA.

MalumaThe single will be released via Universal Arabic Music/Universal Music Group/ Republic Records.

Titled “Tukoh Taka,” the track will make history as the first FIFA World Cup song featuring English, Spanish and Arabic lyrics.

The cross-continental collaboration features a high-energy synergy between Minaj, Maluma and Fares as they rap and sing about uniting fans worldwide and celebrating together.

Fans can also expect a “cinematic” music video premiere to accompany the track that same day.

This year, FIFA has released a handful of official songs for the 2022 World Cup. The first song released was the uplifting track “Hayya Hayya (Better Together),” featuring Trinidad Cardona, Davido and Aisha, which fuses R&B and reggae influences. For the first time ever, the tournament’s soundtrack will feature a multi-song collection, with international artists “showcasing diverse musical genres that span the world, setting the tone for a truly global celebration,” according to FIFA.

In 1990, almost sixty years after the first-ever edition of the World Cup, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) began to adopt songs that would become the official soundtrack of the global soccer event, which happens every four years.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off on November 20 with host nation Qatar’s tournament opener against Ecuador. A total of 32 teams representing different countries will participate. In the end, one is crowned the World Cup champion on December 18.

Trinidad Cardona to Perform During the 2022 FIFA Fan Festival

Trinidad Cardona is readying to take the global stage…

The 23-year-old Mexican and African American R&B singer, social media personality and songwriter is along a prestigious list of global artists set to take part in the 2022 FIFA Fan Festival.

Trinidad CardonaThe announcement comes as the World Cup gets set to launch in Qatar later this month.

In addition to Cardona, other artists playing on the festival’s main stage include Calvin Harris and Diplo, along with Canadian/Morroccan singer Nora Fatehi and Nigerian singer/songwriter Kizz Daniel.

“I’ve been really fortunate to travel all over the world and experience different cultures through music,” says Diplo. “Wherever I am, Jamaica, Spain, England, China, South Africa, etc., football is a social constant. Seeing so many fans from all over the world in one place – the FIFA Fan Festival is just awesome. Really looking forward to it!”

“I’m so excited to be playing for football fans from all over the world at this year’s FIFA Fan Festival,” adds Harris.

The five shows start in Qatar on November 22 with Diplo’s performance and extend through December 10 when Harris closes out the event. The Fan Festival promises music, entertainment, local culture, food and games along with loads of soccer.

These live performances are just one part of the musical offerings associated with the World Cup, the global soccer event in which 32 teams — representing different countries — participate with one, in the end, being crowned World Cup champion.

As has been tradition for many years, a select number of songs officially soundtrack the tournament, and so far this year several songs associated to the World Cup have been released, with a few including  “Hayya Hayya (Better Together)” being part of the official FIFA soundtrack.

See a list of those 2022 tracks here.

Alexia Putellas Wins Ballon d’Or Feminin for Second Consecutive Year

Alexia Putellas has earned a place in soccer history…

The 28-year-old Spanish professional footballer and Barcelona midfielder has won the Ballon d’Or Feminin for the second consecutive year, becoming the first woman to win the award twice since it launched in 2018.

Alexia PutellasPutellas was named the best women’s player in the world at the Monday gala in Paris despite being sidelined since June with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. 

She finished ahead of Arsenal‘s Beth Mead and Chelsea‘s Sam Kerr, who were second and third, respectively.

“Without my teammates this would not have been possible,” Putellas said after receiving the award. “I want to thank the staff and the coach and everyone involved at Barcelona.

“I’m very happy to be back here and pleased because a year ago I was able to win this prize and it pushed me to want to be even better.”

Prior to her injury in the summer, Putellas captained Barcelona to a third successive Primera Division title. The Catalan side made history by winning all 30 of their league games throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

She also led Barcelona to success in the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa de la Reina to complete a domestic treble, although they came up short in the Champions League.

Putellas’ strike in the final was not enough to stop French side Lyon from beating Barcelona 3-1 in Turin.

However, after scoring 11 goals in the Champions League, more than any other player in the competition, Putellas was later named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year ahead of Mead and Lena Oberdorf.

In addition to those 11 goals in Europe, she scored 18 league goals from midfield, four in the Copa de la Reina and one in the Super Cup.

Putellas had hoped success would follow for Spain in the summer, but she tore her left ACL in training with the national team ahead of the European Championship in England.

She has not played since and is expected to remain out of action for several more months.

Last year, Putellas became the first Spanish winner of a Ballon d’Or since Luis Suarez in 1960. She was also named the Best FIFA Women’s Player.

The Ballon d’Or Feminin was launched in 2018 when it was won by Lyon’s Ada HegerbergMegan Rapinoe won it the following year before it was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Gavi Named World’s Best Under-21 Footballer

Gavi is celebrating his Kopa moment…

The 18-year-old Spanish professional footballer has won the Kopa Trophy, the award presented to the best player under age 21, prior to the 2022 Ballon d’Or presentation.

GaviThe Barca midfielder, who turned 18 in August, claimed the prize ahead of Borussia Dortmund‘s Jude Bellingham and Bayern Munich‘s Jamal Musiala.

He succeeds Barcelona teammate Pedri, last year’s winner.

After breaking into the first-team setup at age 16 last year, Gavi went on to make 47 appearances for Barca in all competitions in 2021-22, scoring two goals.

His performances for the Catalan club earned him a call-up to the Spain national team and he became the youngest player to ever represent La Roja, at the age of 17 years and 62 days.

Gavi has since won 12 caps for Spain and is a regular for club and country heading into next month’s FIFA World Cup.

Prime Video to Premiere Armando Bo’s FIFA Gate-Themed Docuseries “El Presidente: The Corruption Game” in November

Armando Bo’s look into how a Brazilian man wrestled control from Europe of the biggest sport on earth is headed to Prime Video.

Amazon will release the 43-year-old Argentine Oscar-winning screenwriter and film director’s Amazon Original El Presidente: The Corruption Game on November 4.

Armando Bo's Amazon Original El Presidente: The Corruption GameBo’s Latin American series focuses on João Havelange.

In a neat historical echo, backed by Bo’s About Entertainment, Narcos producer Gaumont TV, Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín’s Fabula and Argentine powerhouse Kapow, the second season in the El Presidente series saga of soccer business high jinks and low morals now looks set to become one of the biggest soccer titles released in the countdown to the greatest show on earth, the FIFA World Cup.

Whether FIFA will be entirely comfortable with it is another matter, if a trailer, shared in exclusivity with Variety, is anything to go by.

One of Iberseries’ biggest market premieres, El Presidente: The Corruption Game had its world premiere of its first two episodes on October 14 at this year’s reinvigorated Festival do Rio.

Season 1 turned on the feckless, sly, amoral but simpático Sergio Jadue, a Chilean small town soccer club supremo who’s elected president of Chile’s soccer association. The wrong man in the right place, a fish out of water, he rises in FIFA’s hierarchy, sparking FIFA Gate, a $150 million corruption scandal. Bo tells the story as ironic farce.

Now narrated by Jadue, The President: The Corruption Game teases out the human tragedy in a still arch comedy, which unspools on a far grander scale.

It takes on another extraordinary – but far more towering – figure, Brazil’s Havelange, FIFA president over 1974-98. A hulking giant with dashing blond looks, Havelange dedicated his life to serving Brazil – swimming in the 1936 Berlin Games, working as the vice-president of the Brazilian Sports Confederation from 1958 to 1973, when Brazil won three World Cups – and to serving himself from FIFA’s gravy train.

Glimpsed in the trailer, colorful scenes kick off El Presidente: The Corruption Game with Havelange fuming as Pele is literally kicked out of the first round of England’s 1966 Word Cup, Havelange, the son of a Belgian arms dealer, is outraged by a FIFA meeting where “third world” members are forced to sit in a different room from their European colleagues.

In 1974, as Johan Cruyff forged the modern game on-field, Havelange began to revolutionize its economics and reach – central events in the second season.

Seizing control of FIFA from Sir Stanley Rous, a neo-colonial buffer, over the next 24 years, he created soccer’s modern global business, powered by sponsorship and TV deals, while enlarging the World Cup to 32 teams and introducing a FIFA Women’s World Cup.

But Havelange did so at a tremendous cost, opening FIFA up to multi-million bribery and money laundering and losing his friends, family and honor when he fell into final total disgrace over the 2015-16 FIFA Gate at the age of 98.

El Presidente: The Corruption Game, a mixture of near doc recreation and self-declared fiction, begins with a doddery Havelange, now celebrating his 100th birthday. Only one guest accepts his invitation.

Much of this is caught in the fast-paced, extensive trailer. Havelange used Brazil’s stunning 1970 World Cup triumph to bid to become FIFA president. He is rebuffed by Europe’s still colonial FIFA members. “Even if Brazil wins 100 World Cups, decisions will never be made in the colonies,” FIFA general secretary Helmut Kässer tells him.

Havelange launches an extraordinary play for the votes of poor countries, winning them by his promises, backhanders and a tour of Africa with Pele.

“FIFA is entering the future,” Havelange announces in the trailer. Nobody transformed soccer more off the field more than he did. It wasn’t all for the better.

Andrea Rodebaugh Named New Sporting Director for Mexico’s Women’s National Teams by Mexican Football Federation

Andrea Rodebaugh is taking the lead…

The 55-year-old Mexican professional futbol coach and former player has been hired by the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) as the new sporting director for its women’s national teams, president Yon de Luisa announced on Sunday at a press conference in Los Angeles.

Andrea Rodebaugh The former El Tri Femenil midfielder joins the FMF after previously coaching Club Tijuana in Liga MX Femenil and Mexico’s U20 women’s national team. Most recently, Rodebaugh has also done work with FIFA as a women’s football consultant.

“Andrea arrives to add and strengthen the women’s teams,” De Luisa said. “With her professionalism and dedication, Andrea has come to achieve the goal that we’ve all set for ourselves, which is to be in the top eight in the world. Andrea’s leadership will be essential.”

Rodebaugh will be tasked with reviving a women’s national team project that has gone through a turbulent 2022.

Despite a growth in domestic talent and the rise of the Liga MX Femenil (Mexico’s top flight for women’s soccer), the women’s national team failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup and 2024 Paris Games after finishing without a win in July’s CONCACAF W Championship — ultimately leading to the firing of manager Monica Vergara in August.

Coupled with the men’s U20 squad failing to qualify for the 2023 U20 World Cup and Paris 2024, the FMF made a decision in mid-July to dismiss general sporting director Gerardo Torrado, sporting director of national teams Ignacio Hierro, and U20 coach Luis Perez. Later that month, multiple coaches from the women’s U20 squad were also fired after an internal investigation “found of a lack of leadership and inappropriate behaviors.”

Through a restructuring of the FMF, Jaime Ordiales has since stepped in as a sporting director for only the men’s national teams, and on the women’s side, Rodebaugh will now be leading the efforts.

“It is an honor to contribute to the national teams, it’s a huge challenge and I’m aware that it requires commitment and plenty of discipline,” Rodebaugh said in her introductory press conference.

“We have a generation of very talented players, willing to give their best on the field. I will focus all my energy and concentration to improve their performances so they can reach their highest level.”

Later, De Luisa revealed that coach Pablo Lopez, who recently won the U20 Women’s World Cup with Spain, is in “very advanced” talks with the FMF to become the next manager of Mexico’s senior women’s team.

Currently in the middle of a trip to southern California, the Mexico women lost 1-0 to New Zealand during a friendly on Friday at Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park. On Monday, they’ll then face the NWSL‘s Angel City FC in a country vs. club friendly at Los Angeles’ Banc of California Stadium.

Miguel Angel Gamero and Cristian Flores are the current interim coaches for the senior women’s team.

Ozuna Teams Up with Gims to Release FIFA World Cup Track “Arhbo”

Ozuna is sending out a World Cup welcome

In a countdown to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the 30-year-old Puerto Rican/Dominican singer and rapper has joined voices with French-Congolese rapper Gims to release the new track “Arhbo,” part of the official soundtrack.

OzunaThe feel-good track is named after the local slang word for “welcome” in Qatar and “perfectly embodies the welcoming spirit of the Arabian country.

“I think ‘Bienvenidos’, ‘welcome home’ says it all,” Ozuna said in a press statement. “Whatever journey everyone was on, it brought them here, to this moment, and for that moment they are home. They say that ‘home is where the heart is, right? El hogar está donde está el corazón. For all the people who are coming, and all the people who, with all their hearts, want to come, we are saying, ‘bienvenidos’, welcome home!”