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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