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AP PHOTOS: Favorite photos from AP staff at the World Cup

A World Cup that ended with Lionel Messi finally holding the gold trophy produced some unforgettable images from the staff of Associated Press photographers at the tournament in Qatar.

During the 64 matches during almost a month of football, the AP deployed dozens of photographers in the eight stadiums in and around Doha.

It ended at the Lusail Stadium where Argentina beat France in a penalty shootout for the title, and a picture of Messi hoisted above the crowd with the World Cup trophy in hand.

It was one of a group of photos chosen by employees as their favorite of the tournament.

There were other memorable moments and other star players. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, who played perhaps his last World Cup match with Portugal at the age of 37. Like Neymar, who overcame an ankle injury to return to the field, but eventually lost in the quarterfinals with Brazil. Like Luka Modric, who reached the semi-finals again a year after reaching the final with Croatia. And like Kylian Mbappé, who became only the second player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final despite France losing to Argentina.

The Qatar tournament has been criticized for years for the country’s human rights record, and it began with more controversy when FIFA threatened to penalize players who wanted to wear an unofficial captain’s armband to promote inclusion.

Four-time champions Germany was one of those teams, and the players decided to take a team photo before their opening game, each holding their hand over their mouth to show they were being silenced.

There were also off-field photos, such as those of the fans who make the World Cup so special. And even a cricket photo with migrant workers playing their favorite game on a rocky terrain in the city with skyscrapers everywhere.

But in the end it was all about Messi and that World Cup trophy in his grateful hands.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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