Football at its best is an exceptionally simple game: groups of people brought together to try and kick a ball into the back of a net. Whenever and wherever this takes place, there will be other groups of people brought together to watch it happen. World Cups do this better than any other form of the game on the planet. This is in spite of the location of the 2022 event. Qatar won this tournament in extremely dubious circumstances; its human rights record, which includes criminalising homosexuality, is at odds with so much of what the World Cup purports to stand for.
And still, people wish to celebrate their own nations, and their own heroes — they wish to will new heroes, and witness iconic moments; people map their lives chronologically by World Cups. Fans can remember where they were when their hero missed a penalty, or the exact morning they were given the day off school because a game kicked-off at a time the teachers wanted to watch the game, and almost certainly the sense of confusion when Ronaldo (R9, O Fenomeno, the only Ronaldo) went missing from the Brazil teamsheet ahead of the 1998 final against France.
During World Cups, London’s diaspora communities are at their most brilliantly visible, and thus this attempt to weave that tapestry of people into an easily followable list, that shows where to watch World Cup matches surrounded by people from each nation playing. It’s by no means definitive — pockets of each nation’s fans will be watching matches with faces lit up by televisions in front rooms and in hastily arranged groups at pubs, bars, big screens, restaurants, and electrical stores across the capital throughout the tournament. But these are places that communities will come together to watch their team.
Football at its best is a simple game… So explore London, and find the groups of people brought together by it over the next four weeks.
NB: This is the first instalment; each team’s representative will be in place by the time the tournament kicks off on 20 November 2022.Read More