Run of Play | Great Reads and More
1. ‘It's a goal that will remain in the history of Panamanian football.’
Felipe Baloy scored Panama’s first World Cup goal, ever, and became the oldest player to score in his World Cup debut.
Really, it’s the Panama mark that means the most. It’s not like 37-year-olds poured out into the streets for spontaneous celebrations and riotous dance parties. But Panamanians sure did.
Baloy, a 69th-minute substitute, slid into the England penalty area to connect with a well-placed Ricardo Avila free kick. Watch and listen. And check out the celebrations back home in Panama. I wish I was back at Michelle’s Cocktail Lounge for this one.
Everyone wanted in on the excitement of Baloy’s accomplishment. The Guatemalan media noted that he was the first player from that country’s top league to score in a World Cup. The Mexican news media mentioned that Baloy had spent several years playing in Liga MX, for three different teams. La Prensa, the Panamanian newspaper, rounded up coverage online.
Also, England scored 6 goals, half of them by Harry Kane.
Watch the highlights.
2. Mohamed Salah considers quitting Egypt.
The Pharaohs’ star and one of the most beloved players at the World Cup is reportedly angry that he’s being used as a political symbol and the Egyptian soccer federation hasn’t protected him.
Salah, perhaps the most recognizable Muslim athlete in the world, was especially upset that he was being used by the Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, who granted Salah honorary Chechen citizenship at a banquet for the team on Saturday. On the eve of the tournament, Kadyrov had Salah dragged out of bed from his hotel for a photo op.
The Egyptian soccer federation told CNN on Sunday it hadn’t been informed of Salah’s plans to quit the national team.
Read more from The New York Times about how politics has infiltrated the World Cup.
3. Coup d’etat against Argentina coach.
It’s a standoff between coach Jorge Sampaoli and the veteran players who are fed up with his strategy, tactics and personnel choices, according to reports in Argentine and Spanish news media. Several players behind Lionel Messi, if not led by him, want to choose the lineup for the Group D finale against Nigeria. The generation of players who came up together feel they can save Argentina’s World Cup if allowed to do it their way.
It’s all a bit of a mess on top of a mess, but it seems that Sampaoli, even without his players’ confidence, will continue as coach. Javier Mascherano, a team veteran and confidante of Messi’s, said everything’s fine, if you can believe that.
"The relationship with the coach is totally normal," Mascherano said, according to ESPN. "Obviously, when we feel some discomfort or we see something, we express it to him because otherwise, we would be hypocrites. If you are uncomfortable with something on the pitch and don't express it to the coach, are you going to play an uncomfortable game? You would be harming the team."
Read more from Mascherano’s comments.
4. Iranians celebrate their country, not its government.
One reason I’m so fascinated with Iran at the World Cup is the team’s ability to give voice to millions of Iranians who would not otherwise be heard. People exiled from their home after the Islamic Revolution have an opportunity to show their pride and celebrate their compatriots, not the government. "I hope it shows to the world that we are normal human beings, like everyone else, not monsters," said Manny Khorasani, who lives in Scotland. He was in Saransk, Russia, for the match Tuesday against Portugal.
Read more from Iranian fans at the World Cup.
5. Carles Puyol banned from Iranian TV for his haircut.
Apparently, the former Spanish defender and World Cup winner was scheduled to help Iranian TV cover Team Melli’s game against Spain last week. But when he got to the studio, they reportedly would not let him on air because of his long hair.
According to the BBC, the Iranian soccer federation’s code of conduct says that its players shouldn’t wear hairstyles that “spread foreign culture,” and players are sometimes warned to change hairstyles that the authorities don’t like. “Iran has no official hairstyle policy,” the BBC reported. “But state TV is strictly against broadcasting anything considered unconventional or ‘un-Islamic’ by the clergy and the conservative establishment.”
Read more from the BBC.