England v Scotland or Wales would be a really hot World Cup derby in Qatar – but beware Ukraine

Last night, three home nations discovered their opponents at this winter’s World Cup 2022 in Qatar. As an England fan, I was hoping for the US, Iran and Costa Rica. Instead, Gareth Southgate’s side got the United States, Iran and … one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine. So it’s a lively draw for the third favorites.

The bookmakers want England to lift the trophy after Brazil or France. Ukraine’s football team is what stands in the way of perhaps the strangest British derby ever, played 3,500 miles away in the Gulf in 25C-30C temperatures.

Scotland’s path to winning the World Cup is now clear. They must beat Ukraine, Wales, USA, Iran, England plus four survivors from the group stage. Wales can stop them and seize the last seats on the plane.

In the midst of the tension, it is hard to forget Fifa’s shameful decision to leave the tournament to Qatar. Doha World Cup executives are increasingly rattling off coverage the conditions of migrant workers and the rights of homosexuals. They want the world to focus on football. Still, control will intensify as the kick-off approaches.

This week, Qatar’s security chief warned that rainbow flags could be taken by fans “for their own protection” despite Fifa’s promises to the contrary. He added: “You want to demonstrate your views on [LGBT] situation, it demonstrates in a society where it will be accepted … Watch the game. It is well. But do not really come in and insult the whole community because of this. ”

Does that sound like change? We need to be realistic about the chance that a short sports festival really drives social and cultural revolution.

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