Today at the World Cup: England wait for answers while Bale is raring to go
The World Cup gets into full swing on Monday with three games on the tournament’s second day and England and Wales among the teams to feature.
After 12 years of controversial headlines, Qatar 2022 finally began on Sunday with defeat for the host nation after a glitzy opening ceremony.
Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and South Korean pop singer Jung Kook were the star attractions as the tournament was opened amid great fanfare, but the party fell flat for Qatar when the football started with the host nation beaten 2-0 by a far superior Ecuador side.
Here, the PA news agency rounds up events in Qatar.
England awaiting answer over armband
The Football Association is seeking clarity from world governing body FIFA over what the potential repercussions would be should players wear the ‘OneLove’ armband at the World Cup.
England captain Harry Kane is one of nine European captains to have pledged to wear the rainbow armband to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the tournament. Same-sex relationships are criminalised in Qatar.
Yet as the armband is unsanctioned by FIFA it would risk potential punishment. Previously the FA has said it would back Kane in the event of fines being issued but reports have now emerged suggesting players could be booked for wearing it.
Kane said: “I know the FA are talking to FIFA at the moment but I think we’ve made it clear that we want to wear it.”
England, meanwhile, will take the knee throughout the tournament in a stand against racism and inequality.
Manager Gareth Southgate said: “We think it’s a strong statement that will go around the world for young people, in particular, to see that inclusivity is very important.”
England will be without James Maddison as they get their campaign under way against Iran on Monday.
The Leicester playmaker is yet to participate in full training in Qatar and was absent from Sunday’s session at England’s Al Wakrah Sports Complex base.
Maddison was substituted in the first half of the Foxes’ win over West Ham with a knee problem last weekend.
Bale fit and ready to fire
Gareth Bale has shrugged off concerns over his fitness as Wales prepare to play their first match at the World Cup finals in 64 years.
Manager Robert Page’s star player has played just 30 minutes of football for his club Los Angeles FC since the start of October.
Wales open their campaign against the United States on Monday evening.
Former Tottenham and Real Madrid forward Bale said: “I’m right where I wanted to be. I’m ready to go.
“It’s game-time and hopefully we can step up and deliver what needs to be delivered.”
Qatar fail to spark
Qatar’s hopes of making an impression on the field were quickly deflated as Ecuador eased to a comfortable victory in the opening Group A match.
Enner Valencia struck twice in the first half with a well-taken penalty and a powerful header.
The result meant Qatar became the first host nation to lose their opening match in World Cup history and thousands left the ground early.
Early talking point
The action had barely begun old when the tournament got its first major on-field talking point.
Valencia thought he had given Ecuador a third-minute lead against the hosts but, after a lengthy delay, the goal was eventually disallowed for offside.
The final verdict was Michael Estrada was marginally offside during a build-up in which Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb twice flapped at a cross. A graphic was belatedly produced to validate the decision but the lack of clarity over how it was communicated caused much frustration.
Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro admitted he “lost sight of what was happening” during the delay before concluding Estrada must “do something about his fingernails and his toenails”.
Picture of the day
Tweet of the day
“We came to make history,” read the message from the Ecuador team’s official Twitter account.
Who’s up next?
Group A: Senegal v Netherlands (4pm, ITV1).Group B: England v Iran (1pm, BBC One), USA v Wales (7pm, ITV1)