World Cup 2022 diary: Maradona fever in Doha and a striking Iranian demonstration

Friday marked the two-year anniversary of Diego Maradona's death, so it's only right for the day's diary to have a particular focus on the Argentina great.

Gianni Infantino spoke from a CONMEBOL event, suggesting every World Cup should have "one day to celebrate Diego Armando Maradona".

But that was far from the only tribute to the late great, as Stats Perform found.

It still wasn't all about Maradona on Friday.

We soaked in a bit of culture up the coast from Doha, and took note of the seemingly questionable priorities of stadium security…

Diego airways... and even meet the late great

Even with the World Cup in Qatar, the streets and stadiums of Doha occasionally lack a little football fervour and passion. With more tourists than fans in the stadiums in a country with little tradition for the game, the Maradona FanFest stands out.

Historic jerseys worn by El Diego for club and country alike, gifts for Maradona from other players and even a guitar signed by Argentine rockstar Andres Calamaro are part of an exhibition that takes place every day at Hamad International Airport.

The location of the event is not random. The exhibition is in the hangar owned by the Emir of Qatar, who has given up the space for one of the main attractions: a fully decorated aircraft, with images of the Argentine star hand-painted by the renowned Argentine artist Maximiliano Bagnasco, who a few weeks ago inaugurated a giant mural of the World Cup legend in Buenos Aires. The aircraft, christened Tango D10s, is fully customised with the blue and white colours, photos of the eternal forward and even a replica of the World Cup inside. The plane will be auctioned in December.

As if that was not enough, there is also the 'Maradona Experience', a hologram of the late great with which the fans can interact, even prompting the hinchas to cry with emotion.

There was no more fitting day to visit.

Maradona fever in Doha

To celebrate the World Cup, the 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum in Doha, built into the complex of the Khalifa International Stadium, is hosting a World of Football exhibition, and Maradona again features prominently.

One section of the exhibit features a pair of Maradona's match-worn boots, as well as two of his worn Argentina shirts.

They are placed proudly at the front of a long section of famous jerseys, with a number 19 Lionel Messi shirt next in line.

For obvious reasons, there were likewise plenty of Argentina fans there on Friday taking snaps of the iconic memorabilia.

Showing solidarity

Iranian players and fans have arguably been scrutinised more than those of any other nation at the World Cup due to the socio-political significance of their actions.

Against England on matchday one, the team refused to sing the national anthem in solidarity with those protesting gender discrimination back home, and fans greeted the song with whistles and jeers.

Iran fan
Iran fan

Iran supporters at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium for Friday's dramatic 2-0 win over Wales did the same. Among them was a woman with a jersey donning the name Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who died in custody two months ago after being arrested by Iran's so-called morality police for not wearing the mandatory hijab.

Her death has sparked mass demonstrations against the regime in Iran, with over 15,000 protestors reportedly arrested.

Many Iran fans in Qatar have displayed messages of solidarity at games during the tournament, but on Friday the female supporter – who strikingly painted tears of blood flowing from her eyes – attracted unwanted attention for her harmless display as she was accosted by security inside the ground.

Iran fan 2
Iran fan 2

With that and some people finding it difficult to get into grounds while bearing anything with a rainbow on, it is fair to say plenty have questioned the priorities of stadium security personnel.

McCafe-rena

There's plenty of cafe options in the Main Media Centre, so standing out from the crowd is key to attracting custom.

The McCafe workers came up with a plan just for that, and every day – usually at some stage in the morning – the workers on shift get on their dancing shoes.

We're probably not going to be joining in, though!

Trendsetters

Neither Italy nor Greece qualified for the 2022 World Cup, but that’s not say their heritage is not on show in Qatar.

Take a trip down to the waterfront area of Katara and you will see a nod to both in the shape of a magnificent amphitheatre.

Built in 2008, it combines a traditional style with that representing Islamic features and seats 5,000 people.

As impressive as it is, we are guessing having a (very small) influence on these shores will be of little consolation to the Italians and the Greeks as they watch the World Cup at home!!