Given the powerful statement she made when she chose to wear the banned rainbow-themed OneLove armband while working for the BBC, eyebrows were raised when pundit Alex Scott was spotted in a private box at the Argentina v Croatia semi-final, enjoying hospitality laid on by the Qatar Supreme Committee.
Scott donned the pro-inclusion armband, which FIFA had forbidden captains from wearing, while working on England’s opener with Iran in a country where homosexuality is banned. But she took in Tuesday night’s action from a plush skybox at the Lusail Stadium.
‘It seemed to be quite the U-turn,’ remarked one insider. ‘One minute she’s criticising them, the next she’s in their box enjoying all the luxuries that come with it.’
The BBC and a spokesperson for Scott declined to comment.
Alex Scott donned the pro-inclusion armband while working on England’s opener with Iran
DIDN’T SEE YOU IN THE CHEAP SEATS, BECKS!
Interesting to see former England captain and Qatar ambassador David Beckham hail the quality of the fan experience in Doha and praise the tournament for uniting fans across the globe.
This would be the David Beckham who was only ever spotted in the VVIP box at matches — something way out of the regular fan’s budget — and the David Beckham who was not seen mixing with rank-and-file supporters once.
Oh, and the David Beckham whom media were prevented from speaking to despite many requests.
Qatar ambassador David Beckham praised the tournament for uniting fans across the globe
FIFA OFFICIALS ENJOY LIFE OF LUXURY
On the subject of fan experience, the best could be found at the U-shaped, five-star Fairmont Hotel, which played host to FIFA officials and their partners.
Agenda has been shown images of the luxury on offer, with the highlight an idyllic swimming pool which at one end features a full-length bar.
With fans forbidden from boozing at stadiums, executives could kick back in the water with a cocktail while watching the action.
BAND ON THE RUN
Toploader were left dancing in the moonlight when, despite playing a set before England’s quarter-final against France, they had not been given seats for the game.
The rock band called up friends and contacts in a scramble to ensure they could stay in the stadium they had just performed in.
Unfortunately, it was to no avail and the group had to hotfoot it to a nearby bar and watch the match on TV.
Toploader had to hotfoot it to a nearby bar and watch the England match on TV
CHAOS ON THE METRO
Chaotic scenes on the Doha Metro ahead of the World Cup final, with fights breaking out as punters tried to force their way on to trains, came as no surprise. Things got so unruly staff had to be stationed at each entrance to tell those waiting to allow those on board to get off first before shoving past them.
OLYMPIC BOOST FOR QATAR
Qatar’s likely bid to host the Olympics in 2036 — as reported by Sportsmail — may have got an early shot in the arm.
Former Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was a regular at matches as her nation made it through to finish third on Saturday.
Grabar-Kitarovic, 54, just happens to be Croatia’s representative on the International Olympic Committee and last year she was named chair of the future-host commission and will play a key role in deciding where future Olympics are held.
TRAILER RAISES EYEBROWS
The trailer for the Apple TV series on the European Super League was released last week and raised eyebrows.
Chief agitator and now former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli (with a straight face) says: ‘I love football. But I am not in love with the governance.’
This from the man who led a board who had to resign in its entirety because of a fraud investigation in Italy.
Former Juventus president Andrea Agnelli features in TV series on European Super League
And what of Agnelli’s partners in the botched Super League project?
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid were found guilty at the European Court of Justice of illegal state aid. Not exactly governance to be in love with.
GOLF MEMBERS HAPPY IT’S ALL OVER
The end of the tournament could not come soon enough for some members of the prestigious Doha Golf Club.
The 18-hole championship venue, one of the first grass courses to be built in the Middle East, also served as a FIFA official fan venue, which saw an influx of punters paying top dollar to let their hair down.
Some members were aghast at the sights which greeted them at the usually-pristine complex and will be happy to see normality resume.
The same cannot be said for management, with tee times during the World Cup doubling to £300. England players instead headed to Education City, where a round on the nine-hole par-three course cost about £50 a head.
WINGING IT AT BURNLEY
Car park operators at Burnley were left scratching their heads on Saturday ahead of the Championship clash with Middlesbrough.
On two occasions punters turned up to the players’ area claiming to be Burnley’s Moroccan winger Anass Zaroury.
The Belgium-born 22-year-old was actually 4,500-miles away in Qatar where his country were taking on Croatia in the third-place play-off in Doha.
Burnley’s Moroccan winger Anass Zaroury in action against Croatia on Saturday
BUDWEISER GETS PUT TO USE!
Full marks to the organising committee who found an ingenious way to shift all the unopened Budweiser that was pulled from stadiums thanks to a last-minute booze ban.
On Thursday night, at a media and broadcast social evening, journalists were provided with as much food and cans of Bud as they wanted, while a band played.
Amid accusations of paid fans at grounds, it was interesting to note large numbers of ‘journalists’ race towards the DJ and dance like they were having the time of their lives, not too dissimilar to the acting that takes place during the Super Bowl half-time show.
VIRUS BUG HITS JOURNALISTS
France’s struggles with a virus ahead of the final came as no surprise to those covering the tournament.
A large number of journalists were struck down by illness thanks in no small part to the air-conditioning at nearly all the venues.
Air conditioning at all World Cup venues wreaked havoc among the press corps in Qatar
The media centre felt like a giant Petri dish, where press conferences regularly played out to a cacophony of coughing and hacking.
Some of the more heavily-affected went to hospital, where the order of the day appeared to be an antibiotic shot in the backside.
WAGS WORKOUT IN QATAR
Many of the Wags in Qatar were reluctant to come home when their partners’ teams were knocked out — but it had little to do with the luxuries on offer or the climate.
Quick-thinking New York and Los Angeles-based fitness studio Dogpound sent personal trainers to the Middle East and their sessions, at the swanky Waldorf (where many of England’s other halves stayed after jettisoning HMS Wag), became the stuff of legend.
With a heavy Christmas around the corner, spaces were at a premium for what has been billed as ‘Hollywood’s Hardest Workout’ which is endorsed by a series of A-listers.