Favorite photo of the Associated Press staff from the World Cup

A World Cup that ended with Lionel Messi finally hoisting the gold trophy in Qatar has captured some memorable photos for AP photographers.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy in front of fans after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Dec. 18, 2022. A World Cup that ended with Lionel Messi finally holding the golden trophy in his hands produced some unforgettable images from the staff of Associated Press photographers at the tournament in Qatar. Through the 64 games over nearly a month of soccer, the AP deployed dozens of photographers to the eight stadiums in and around Doha.

The Associated Press dispatched dozens of photographers to eight stadiums in and around Doha over nearly a month of 64 football games.

The match ended at the Lusail Stadium, with Argentina beating France on penalties to claim the title, with a picture of Lionel Messi holding the World Cup trophy held aloft above the crowd.

This is one of a set of photos chosen by the staff as their favorite match.

There were other memorable moments, as well as other star players. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, who may have played his last World Cup game for Portugal at the age of 37. Take Neymar, who returned to action after overcoming an ankle injury but ended up losing out against Brazil in the quarter-finals. Like Luka Modric, he returned to the semi-finals with Croatia a year after reaching the final. Like Kylian Mbappe, he became only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final despite France’s loss to Argentina.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi greets cheering fans after his team’s 3-0 win in the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022.

Qatar’s game has been criticized for years because of the country’s human rights record, and it started to spark more controversy when FIFA threatened to punish players who wanted to wear the unofficial captain’s armband to promote inclusion.

Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands celebrates scoring his side’s 3rd goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.

Four-time champions Germany were one of those teams, and the players decided to pose for a group photo ahead of the opening match, with everyone putting their hands over their mouths to show they had been muted.

There are also photos off the pitch, such as the fans who make the World Cup so special. There’s even a photo of cricket, with migrant workers playing their favorite game on a rocky plot in the city, surrounded by skyscrapers.

In the end, though, it was all about Messi and the World Cup trophy in his grateful hands.

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Lionel Messi’s World Cup Celebrations Post Egg Photo on Instagram Most Liked

If winning the World Cup on Sunday wasn’t enough, Lionel Messi‘s celebratory Instagram post earned him another accolade: a world record.

Guinness World Records announced Tuesday that Messi’s Insta post is now the most popular in the platform’s history, with more than 62 million likes at the time of publication. It showed pictures of him celebrating Argentina‘s victory over France in Sunday’s World Cup final with his teammates, and it showed him doing various things with the solid gold trophy, like lifting it above his head, hugging it and kissing it.

With 62 million likes and counting, more people liked the post than the population of all but 23 countries in the world. If all these people came together to form their own country (possibly named Messiland or Messitina), it would be bigger than Italy, Thailand, Spain, South Korea and Messi’s native Argentina.

To be the greatest, you have to beat the greatest. In this case, Messi’s post replaced the famous egg photo as the most popular post in Instagram history. This isn’t a euphemism or a code — it’s an actual photo of an egg, posted in 2019, specifically to set the record for the most liked post.

Yes. It’s just an egg. Eggs seen and loved by over 56 million people. But now that its reign as the most popular Instagram post in history is over, it’s Messi’s time. Thankfully, he’s a lot more fun than eggs.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates during the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.


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2026 World Cup venues selected: Which cities will host in USA, Canada, Mexico?

On Thursday, nearly four years to the day after it was announced that the men’s FIFA World Cup would be returning to the United States and Mexico (and coming to Canada for the first time) in 2026, 16 host cities were announced as venues for the first-ever 48-team tournament.

11 American venues were selected, with five located in the eastern third (despite FIFA’s interpretation of Atlanta), three in the central part of the country and three more out west. Two Canadian cities (Toronto and Vancouver) will host World Cup games for the first time. A pair of Mexican cities (Mexico City and Guadalajara) are set to host the World Cup for the third time (1970 and 1986) while Monterrey was chosen for the second time.

Below is the full list of cities selected as host venues for the 2026 World Cup in the Unites States, Canada and Mexico…

Which 16 venues were selected as host cities for the 2026 World Cup?

USA (11)

Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Boston – Gillette Stadium

Dallas – AT&T Stadium

Houston – NRG Stadium

Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium

Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium

Miami – Hard Rock Stadium

New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium

Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field

San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium

Seattle – Lumen Field

Canada (2)

Toronto – BMO Field

Vancouver – BC Place

Mexico (3)

Guadalajara – Estadio Akron

Mexico City – Estadio Azteca

Monterrey – Estadio BBVA

Latest 2022 World Cup news

With 23 venues vying for 16 spots, a number of notable cities (and venues) were snubbed. Washington D.C., the nation’s capital (in a joint-bid with Baltimore, where games would have been played), was not chosen.

The Rose Bowl, where the 1994 World Cup final was played, was also not selected with Los Angeles presenting two stadiums as options; SoFi Stadium, home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, was selected. Cincinnati, Denver, Nashville and Orlando were the other American cities to miss out as 2026 World Cup venues, alongside Canada’s Edmonton.

2026 World Cup format and qualification

Now that we know the host cities, stadiums and venues for the 2026 World Cup, let’s talk about the tournament itself…

First and foremost, as host nations, it is believed (but not confirmed) that the USA, Canada and Mexico will all automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament featuring 48 teams split in 16 groups of three. Each team will play two group stage games (down one from three), with the 1st- and 2nd-place finishers advancing to the round of 32. It will also be the first World Cup played across three different host nations.

The idea behind adding 16 teams is that one round of group stage games is eliminated and replaced by an additional round of win-or-go-home games in the knockout rounds.

Given that the final round of group games can carry very little, or even no, weight pending earlier results, the new format will guarantee that nearly every game at the 2026 World Cup is hugely consequential.

Yes, FIFA will make a lot more money by changing the format, but fans will also be treated to a better quality product, from beginning to end, with even more global superstars from “lesser” national teams than ever before.


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Messi’s hometown Rosario celebrates World Cup win

Celebrations erupted in the streets of Lionel Messi‘s hometown of Rosario on Sunday after Argentina beat France to win its third World Cup title.

Graduates from the General Las Heras elementary school, where Lionel Messi did his studies, pose for a photo in front of a Messi mural, on the last day of school, in Rosario, Argentina, Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

“We are champions, that’s what we want, more than anything else for (Messi) and the team,” said Santiago Ferraris, 25.

All three of Argentina’s goals in the 3-3 draw were scored by Rosario natives, with Lionel Messi scoring twice for local side Newell’s Old Boys and former local rivals Rosario Angel Di Maria of the Austrian Central team scored a goal.

A Lionel Messi mural covers a building near the Paraná river in Rosario, Argentina, Wednesday, December 14, 2022.

Rosario, like the rest of the country, was paralyzed in a tense game that ended in penalties, which Argentina won 4-2.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in front of the symbolic flag monument in Argentina’s third largest city to celebrate Argentina’s victory. As soon as Messi lifted the international trophy, people started arriving and were still there well into the evening.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi holds the winners trophy as he celebrates with teammates after their win in the World Cup final soccer match against France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

The local football match between Central and Newell’s was put on hold on Sunday as it appeared the whole city celebrated the national team’s victory.

“It’s crazy. So many people are on the same wavelength, everyone is celebrating, it’s more than I expected. This is the most beautiful place today,” Jeremias Regolo, 26 (Jeremias Regolo) said he took part in the celebrations at the Flag Memorial.

Micaela Junco, 28, said the victory was special to her as it was her first World Cup title in her lifetime. The last time Argentina won the title was in 1986.

“It was an incredible feeling for Argentina to win because we were all going in the same direction. Being the best in the world is priceless,” Junco said.

The face of Argentina’s striker Lionel Messi is projected on the capital’s Obelisk as fans celebrate their team’s World Cup victory over France in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

Junco is “proud” of the key roles played by Di Maria and Messi in the game, “because they are from Rosario. We have the best players in Rosario.”

The face of Argentina’s striker Lionel Messi is projected on the capital’s Obelisk as fans celebrate their team’s World Cup victory over France in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.

Fans also took respite from the usual worries about how the win would give a country suffering from one of the highest inflation rates in the world at almost 100% a year.

“Argentina deserves this happiness, not all the bad things that are going on in the country,” said Rodrigo Medina, 21. “The boys in Rosario have always shown they can take challenge.”


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Nine million viewers in the U.S. watched every World Cup semifinal

Argentina and France‘s World Cup semi-final victories were each seen by 9 million people in the US.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi celebrates defeating Croatia 3-0 in a World Cup semifinal soccer match at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

Argentina’s 3-0 win over Croatia on Tuesday was watched by 9.3 million viewers. The fight was watched by 6.47 million people on Fox, according to Nielsen. Fox said that figure included 677,000 people watching the game through its digital service. The game had 2.83 million views on Telemundo in Spanish.

Nielsen did not include Spanish-language streaming on Peacock and Telemundo.

France’s 2-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday was watched by 9 million people. The game was watched by 6.59 million people on Fox, a figure the company said included 660,000 who watched the game digitally. Les Bleus’ victory was watched by 2.41 million people on Telemundo, Nielsen said.

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Croatia, Morocco aim for third place at World Cup

Croatia and Morocco may have lost their chances of winning the World Cup, but when the two teams meet in a third-place playoff on Saturday, the Immortals are at stake.

Croatia striker Andriy Kramaric has dismissed the notion that the match at the Khalifa International Stadium is pointless.

“I think if you ask the Moroccan players that question, I don’t think they see it that way,” he told a news conference on Thursday. “They’re fighting for their lives because if you win a medal at the World Cup you’ll be a hero for your country. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Morocco overcame the odds to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. But the Atlas Lions lost 2-0 to defending champions France on Wednesday.

Croatia reached the final in Russia in 2018 but lost 3-0 to Argentina on Tuesday.

“Eight of us (competing in Russia) understand what it’s like to win a medal at the World Cup, we have a lot of players who haven’t experienced it but they’re happy to do it because it stays with you for the rest of their lives ,” Kramarich said.


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