The World Cup Soccer Championships are finally over. Or, as most of the world calls it – the FIFA World Cup Football championships. The people of Argentina got a very special gift for the first night of Chanukah – a victory over France in the World Cup Finals. And thousands of Argentinian-Israelis celebrated. And so did Americans who live abroad who just wanted it all to end while Americans in America probably did not even know about it.
The victory did come in exciting fashion, however. Argentina blew a 2 – 0 lead. Then came overtime and Argentina took the lead again. But then France tied things up on a penalty kick to send the game to a shootout which Argentina won.
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According to the Israeli government, 4,993 Argentinian immigrants live in Israel. A record 947 Argentinians have already immigrated to Israel so far this year. The previous record was set last year at 934.
And more than 40,000 people in Israel must have cried their eyes out Sunday night after Argentina’s win. This is because there are some 42,068 French immigrants living in the country.
But most soccer fans were probably celebrating Sunday as people tend to not like France. And since the French won the previous FIFA World Cup in 208, the world could little stand to see the French win back to back championships.
This year’s World Cup was the source of a great deal of controversy as it was held in the Arab Gulf nation Qatar. Qatar is far from a democracy and relies on “imported” labor for its infrastructure projects. This meant that thousands of people were brought into the country just to build the new soccer stadiums needed for the event and these people were forced to work long hours in absurd desert heat with deplorable living conditions. Many called this slave labor and a number of the foreign workers died during construction.
The very selection of Qatar to host the FIFA World Cup games was so surprising that it caused a scandal and even led to the prosecution of FIFA officials. They stood accused of taking bribes and corruption.
Qatar did, however, bow to pressure from FIFA earlier this year and agreed to allow people traveling on Israeli passports admission to the country to see the World Cup games. Israel and Qatar have no diplomatic relations. And just a few weeks before the game began Qatar also granted permission for direct flights to fly from Israel for the games.