The on-field action at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has been nothing short of spectacular - 148 goals in 56 matches. However, off the field too, there have been some memorable interviews and press conferences.
Here’s a look at some of the top quotes from this year’s World Cup:-
“It’s not my fault because I did not miss the penalty”
In 2010, Uruguay forward Luis Suarez deliberately handled the ball on the line at that tournament to prevent a certain goal from Dominic Adiyiah’s header right at the end of extra-time.
Suarez was shown a red card but Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty and Uruguay went on to win the shoot-out and qualify for the semifinals.
Twelve years later, Uruguay and Ghana were to meet again, this time in the final match of Group H with a potential Round of 16 spot on the line.
When asked about the 2010 incident in the pre-match press conference, Suarez said, “I don’t say I apologise about that because I take the handball but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me.
“Maybe I can say I apologise if I tackle and injure a player and take a red card, maybe I can apologise.
“But in this situation I take a red card, the referee said ‘penalty’. It’s not my fault because I did not miss the penalty, the player missed the penalty.”
Uruguay beat Ghana 2-0 but lost out on a spot in the knockout round to South Korea on the basis of goals scored. If the South American nation had scored one more goal against Ghana, it would have beaten South Korea on goal difference.
Suarez was left teary-eyed once Uruguay got to know its fate.
“We’re gonna go and F’‘ Croatia”
Despite outplaying Belgium in its first FIFA World Cup match in 36 years, Canada lost its Group F opener 0-1.
An emotional John Herdman, Canada’s head coach, later revealed in the on-field interview what he had told his players during a postgame huddle. “I told them they belong here. And we’re going to go and F Croatia,” he said.
The following day, Herdman explained, “You say those things in an impassioned moment trying to inspire your team in a huddle, and when you’re asked the question what you said in that huddle, yeah, it was what I said.
“It’s not massively respectful to Croatian people and the Croatian national team. I understand very well where they’re at on the world stage. But in that moment, you’ve taken your men to that next place.”
As it turned out, Canada took a 1-0 lead in just 67 seconds in its second group match against the 2018 runner-up before going on to lose 1-4 and being knocked out of the quadrennial event.
“No chance, we’re too old”
Before the World Cup began, Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne told The Guardian in an interview that his team was “too old” and had “no chance” of winning the World Cup.
“No chance, we’re too old. I think our chance was 2018. We have a good team, but its ageing. We lost some key players. We have some good new players coming, but they are not at the level other players were in 2018. I see us more as outsiders,” he said.
World No. 2 Belgium, which finished third in 2018, somehow managed to beat Canada 1-0 in its Group F opener despite being the inferior side. However, it went on to lose 0-2 to Morocco in the second match before a goalless draw against Croatia meant it finished third in the group and failed to qualify for the Round of 16.
“When it happens this way, it feels like watching a horror movie”
Four-time champion Germany crashed out of the group stage for the second consecutive World Cup, missing out on a Round of 16 spot to Spain on goal difference.
Germany suffered a shock 1-2 defeat to Japan in its tournament opener before playing a 1-1 draw with Spain. Going into the final match against Costa Rica, it had to win while also hoping Spain either beats or holds Japan to a draw.
While Germany did beat Costa Rica, 4-2, Japan came from a goal down to defeat Spain 2-1 and topped the group.
Kai Havertz, who scored a brace for Germany in the second half against Costa Rica after coming off the bench, said, “When it happens this way, it feels like watching a horror movie.”
“We learned during the match that Japan was leading, and then the rankings were displayed in the stadium. We still had a little hope that Spain would score. But then we noticed that the Japan match was over,” he added.
“If you, journalists, would like to field some other player, just say for whom because we can’t play 12”
Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz appeared upset when asked to comment on general dissatisfaction with the defensive lineup in the 0-0 draw against Mexico in its World Cup opener, asking who should he drop to bolster the attack.
“When someone asks me if it’s possible to set a different lineup, I answer: ‘Of course it is possible. But at the expense of whom?’,” Michniewicz said in a press conference after the match.
“If you, journalists, would like to field some other player, just say for whom because we can’t play 12. If you want a second striker, then you have to simply drop someone from that lineup.”
Striker Robert Lewandowski cut a lonely figure in the first half before Michniewicz shifted tactics and told Piotr Zielinski to play higher up, a change that led to Poland creating more chances. The Poland coach introduced a second striker in the 87th minute, when Zielinski was substituted by Arkadiusz Milik.
“Rebirth? We are not dead, so we cannot have a rebirth”
Costa Rica coach Luis Suarez dismissed any notions of the team needing a ‘rebirth’ following its humiliating 0-7 loss against Spain in its World Cup group opener.
Costa Rica came into the World Cup with a reputation for being a defensively strong side having conceded only eight goals in World Cup qualifiers but was ripped apart by a Spain team that barely allowed its opponent to have a whiff of the ball.
“Rebirth? We are not dead, so we cannot have a rebirth,” Suarez told reporters after the match.
“Ten years ago, Honduras beat Canada 8-1. Now Canada is the best team in CONCACAF. Only 10 years have gone by, so I’m sure they learned from that defeat.
“Everyone learns from their mistakes but you need to be strong to keep on going and say, ‘OK, I will bounce back even if I’m exposed to criticism or I’m defeated’. If you don’t keep fighting, you’re a loser.”
“Over a year ago, in one of the Spain camps, I told them they had to get here with at least 1,000 penalties taken”
Ahead of the Round of 16 clash against Morocco, Spain coach Luis Enrique said he had set each of his players the “homework” of practising 1,000 penalties before arriving in Qatar, saying he is convinced they are not a lottery.
“Over a year ago, in one of the Spain camps, I told them they had to get here with at least 1,000 penalties taken,” Enrique said on Monday.
“I imagine that they have done their homework. If you wait until getting here to practise penalties... (it won’t be enough).
“It’s a moment of maximum tension, a time to show your nerve, and that you can shoot the penalty in the way you have decided, if you have trained it a thousand times.”
As it turned out, Spain was held to a goalless draw for 120 minutes by Morocco and in the penalty shootout, none of the Spanish players could score.
“You talk of human rights, racism, kids dying in schools with shootings, we have solidarity with all those causes. But here our mission is bring smiles to all people for 90 minutes”
Coached by Carlos Queiroz, Iranian team had been dragged into a political crisis at home, pressured by protesters seeking to challenge the legitimacy of Iran’s clerical rulers to side with them publicly and condemn a deadly state crackdown.
After Iran’s opening 6-2 drubbing by England, Queiroz vented his fury over what he called harassment and political pressure that had distracted his team, which had been criticised for not speaking out strongly over the deaths of protesters, with some Iranians accusing them of siding with authorities.
But in an astonishing turnaround, Iran beat Wales with two stoppage-time goals to get back in contention to reach the last 16 for the first time and face diplomatic rival the United States in a match to decide who qualified for the Round of 16.
Queiroz said there was a time and place to use football to make an impact in the world and received applause from journalists when he spoke of “magic moments” from a simple gesture like giving footballs to impoverished children in Africa.
He said, “We have solidarity with humanitarian causes all over the world.”
In a barely veiled reference to the United States, he added: “You talk of human rights, racism, kids dying in schools with shootings, we have solidarity with all those causes. But here our mission is bring smiles to all people for 90 minutes.”
“Take your phone and you take a picture with him if you want”
Saudi Arabia’s coach Herve Renard’s half-time speech against Argentina has been one of the biggest headlines of this World Cup.
The middle eastern nation was trailing 0-1 at the halfway stage after conceding a penalty, which Argentina captain Lionel Messi duly converted in the 10th minute.
“What are we doing here,” he charged, “Is this our pressing? Pressing does not mean you will go high… (There is) Messi, at the middle of the pitch. He has the ball and you stay in front of the defence. Don’t you know you have to mark him in the middle?
Take your phone and you take a picture with him if you want! If you stay stationary, he will follow. We warned you and now you see what you have done,” he added.
“Don’t you feel we have a chance to come back? Come on guys, come on, this is a World Cup! Give everything! When you are at the edge of the box, you are stationary…..be mobile! Concentrate and be attentive,” Renard exclaimed.
The speech seemed to have worked as Saudi Arabia ended up winning 2-1 after two quick goals early in the second half.
“Very easy - it’s Mr Ferran Torres - otherwise my daughter will come after me and chop off my head”
Spanish winger Ferran Torres, 22, went public about his relationship with Sira Martinez, a Spanish show-jumper who is also 22, this year.
Martinez is the daughter of Spain coach Luis Enrique.
Before the World Cup, when Enrique was asked in an online chat which of the Spain players represented an extension of him on the field of play, he joked, “Very easy - it’s Mr Ferran Torres - otherwise my daughter will come after me and chop off my head.”
(With inputs from AFP, AP and Reuters)