We're only about a week into proceedings, and we've already reached the "social media graphic causes an international incident" stage of the World Cup.
It doesn't end there, either. United States coach Gregg Berhalter is being asked about naval ships and inflation. US captain Tyler Adams had to give his thoughts on systemic racism. Qatari fans are holding up pictures of former Germany star Mesut Ozil because the German national team covered their mouths during prematch photos. Other coaches are suggesting that Germany lost because they covered their mouths during prematch photos.
Cameroon benched their starting keeper because he maybe didn't want to kick it long on goal kicks. Canelo Alvarez is threatening Lionel Messi on social media because he touched a Mexico jersey with his foot. Iran manager Carlos Queiroz and former USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann appear to be on course for a celebrity Royal Rumble in a couple of months. A Croatian forward employed the phrase "We demonstrated who f---ed whom" in the aftermath of their 4-1 win over Canada.
Kevin De Bruyne joked that Belgium, the national team he stars for, can't win the World Cup because they're "too old." Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal stopped a news conference so he could hug a journalist. Spain manager Luis Enrique logged on to Twitch to tell fans that the prospect of his players having a sex party was "not ideal."
Phew. That's just a sample platter of everything that's happened off the field, not including all of the rakes that FIFA continues to insist it must step on.
Of course, we knew this World Cup would be weird, but it's been just as weird on the field, too. Qatar became the first host country to be eliminated after two matches. (OK, fine, not that weird!) Saudi Arabia beat Argentina. Japan beat Germany. Belgium got smoked by Canad, and then lost to Morocco. England got outplayed by the US. Costa Rica lost a game 7-0 without attempting a shot and then immediately won their next match against the team that had just beaten Germany. Iran lost a game 6-2 and are currently second in their group. Amid all the chaos, just two teams have been eliminated from knockout round contention after two matchdays.
But despite the sports-narrative machine seemingly blending everything together and spitting out results at random day after day, there does remain one thing that seemed true a year ago, two years ago, three, maybe four years ago -- hell, even 24 years ago: France and Brazil look like the best teams in the world.