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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: FIFA War Cup

The quarter-finals of the 2022 men's soccer World Cup begin Friday in Qatar, with five teams from Europe, two from South America, and one from Africa. It's going to be war on the pitch in each of the four games, but what would happen if each side actually went to war with each other? We look at who would win each round — and the World Cup — if what counted was not soccer skills but rather military muscle, measured by percentage of GDP spending on defense.

Foreign born World Cup players.


The Graphic Truth: The World Cup of immigration

If you're a soccer player, your dream is to compete in the World Cup — with whatever country will call you up, whether you were born there or not. About 10% of players in the 2022 edition of the tournament in Qatar are foreign-born.

But this is nothing new. Almost 14% of players in Italy '90 were foreign-born and in the colonial era legends like striker Eusébio from Mozambique defended the colors of Portugal. What's more, when FIFA's eligibility standards were more lax, players were allowed to switch sides. José Altafini won the trophy with his native Brazil in 1958 and four years later didn’t repeat victory because he’d signed up for Italy, his adopted country. Wars matter, too: Robert Prosinecki played for Yugoslavia in 1990 and later for independent Croatia in 1998.

Also, the distribution of foreign-born players in Qatar 2022 is unequal: While half of Morocco's squad was not born in Morocco, four teams — Argentina, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea — have no foreign-born players at all. Fun fact: The Williams brothers, both born in Spain, are playing for different countries — the older Iñaki is realizing his grandfather's dream by playing for Ghana, where the family's roots are, while Nico is with La Roja.

We take a look at the number of foreign-born players in World Cup national squads.

Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: The World Cup of graft

FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, has long been tainted with corruption scandals — and the 2022 edition of its top competition is no exception. The World Cup is being held in Qatar despite the fact that even FIFA itself "admitted" that bribes were exchanged before the tiny emirate with zero soccer tradition got the nod in late 2010. But what about the countries whose national teams qualified for the tournament? We take a look at how the most and least corrupt countries would play against each other as soccer teams on a pitch. Note: if you're missing Saudi Arabia, believe it or not it ranks as less graft-ridden than Croatia.

A sculpture of the World Cup trophy is pictured in front of Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.


Will politics or soccer win Qatar's World Cup?

Sunday is the day half the world has been eagerly awaiting for four years. The men's soccer World Cup — the most-watched event of the most popular sport on the planet — kicks off in, of all places, Qatar.

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U.S. President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 31, 2022.

REUTERS/Leah Millis

Qatar going global?

On Monday, US President Joe Biden designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally after hosting its emir at the White House. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was the first Gulf leader to meet with Biden in person since he became president.

Biden and Tamim discussed how Qatar might supply more of its plentiful natural gas to Europe in case Russia’s President Vladimir Putin decides to turn off the tap in response to possible US/EU sanctions over the Ukraine crisis. That’s a long shot, given that 90 percent of Qatari gas exports are now tied up in long-term contracts — although Doha has ways to to fill a short-term supply gap if needed.

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Gabriella Turrisi

How political sports boycotts (really) work

In recent days, America's pastime has become deeply embroiled in America's politics. US Major League Baseball pulled its annual All-Star Game (an annual friendly matchup of the sport's best players at every position) out of Atlanta to protest the Georgia state legislature's recent passage of restrictive new voting laws.

Just a week into baseball season, the move is a big deal in the US. But more broadly, it's the latest in a series of increasingly high-stakes sports decisions around the world that have a lot to do with politics.

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