World Cup off-field controversies paired with perhaps the biggest upset in tourney history

    The GIST: National teams aside, chaos was the name of the game over the first few days of World Cup play, with a plethora of off-field controversies paired with perhaps the biggest upset in tourney history. Our jaws are still on the floor.

    Off the pitch: As ranted about on yesterday’s episode of The GIST of It, the games kicked off under an even larger black cloud than initially anticipated, after organizers flip flopped on everything from beer sales to cracking down on player protest.

    • Most notably, FIFA announced that any player who wore a OneLove armband (meant to promote diversity and inclusion) would be penalized with a yellow card rather than a fine, prompting teams to forego wearing them.

    On the pitch: World No. 51 Saudi Arabia stunned the fútbol world yesterday, taking down superstar Lionel Messi and No. 3 Argentina 2–1 and snapping La Albiceleste’s 36-match unbeaten streak in the process. How important was the upset? Saudi Arabia made today a national holiday to properly celebrate the win. Hold on to your doors.

    • On the flip side, the defending champs No. 4 France overcame an early deficit to take care of business against No. 38 Australia yesterday, ultimately cruising to a 4–1 victory.

    Look ahead: Day 4 is already underway by the time you’re reading this, but it’s not too late to tune in for what should be a Group E thriller between No. 11 Germany and No. 24 Japan, with kickoff set for 8 a.m. ET.

    • Then, despite the expected lopsided result, all eyes will be on tomorrow’s 11 a.m. ET tilt between No. 9 Portugal and No. 61 Ghana, as the controversial Cristiano Ronaldo takes the pitch for the first time since mutually parting ways with club team Manchester United. Boy, bye.

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