It is the simplest of ideas – bring the most elite teams from around the world to challenge each other, and see who has the right to to be called the best on the globe. This is much more than just a game, it has the power to make men into gods.
“Before the match, I told myself that Pele was just flesh and bones like the rest of us. Later I realized I’d been wrong,” said Tarcisio Burgnich, an Italy defender who competed against Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final.
Futbol, Calcio, Football, Soccer, Futebol, Fußball. However you say the name, it still has the same rules, the same two nets and the same referees that will always be wrong.
El Mundial, yes I’m throwing a bunch of words from other languages at you but this one is translated as, The World Cup. I grew up speaking Spanish and with that playing soccer and talking about soccer and watching soccer or futbol. How I learned how to say it was a way of life. I never got as good as I wanted to at soccer but I still knew that you didn’t need to be the best in the world to enjoy yourself and to enjoy watching a game.
One thing I will never understand is why the popularity of soccer is so minuscule in the States. Yea everyone plays when they are young, but most let it fade away after the middle school rec leagues. This is the worlds game even if you’ve never heard of the sport, and it won’t take you much to learn, which is one reason that I think the world follows this simple game as a religion.
The World Cup had the ability to stop a war that had been going on for years and that had ruined thousands of people’s lives. Before the last World Cup in 2006, the Ivory Coast called a truce when the small coastal country qualified, for the first time ever, to play in the 2006 World Cup. It amazes me that a game that many people just look over could have that much power and that much influence on a countries well-being.
To me this is much more than “just a game.” Soccer is a religion to millions all over the world. The consequences of these games can include an actual life or death situation.
“Vincere o morire!” were the words telegraphed to the Italian national team before their final in Paris against Hungary in the 1938 World Cup. The telegraph was sent by Benito Mussolini and literally translates to “Win or Die!”
“I may have let in four goals, but at least I saved their lives,” said the Hungarian goalkeeper, Antal Szabo.
Colombian soccer player Andres Escobar scored his own goal in the 1994 World Cup group against the Untied States. The Colombian side was eliminated from the group stage with a 2-1 loss to the States. Escobar was found shot dead in Medellin, Colombia two weeks after the match.
This tournament is meant to bring together, the people from every region of the world and bring them together for one thing and one thing only: soccer.
Now the stage is set for a new chapter and a new king to be crowned. Thirty-two countries have submitted their clubs of 23 players for the month-long tournament that is being held in post-apartheid South Africa.
“Everybody’s going to be rooting for you. And although sometimes we don’t remember it here in the United States, this is going to be the biggest world stage there is. And you’re going to be representing all of us,” announced President Barack Obama, to the United States national team before departing to South Africa.
The honor that a country receives after they have qualified for the World Cup is tremendous. The glory of winning isn’t the only reason for this tournament. This is a tournament that brings together millions of people from small pubs in the most dense parts of London, to villages in Africa that only have a single TV.
Soccer has always been a poor man’s game, but now with a billion people watching, every nation that was fortunate and talented enough to make it to the World Cup stage, will have to play for themselves and their countrymen.
“Show me something more thrilling than a perfect volley, tell me you never dreamt of the immaculate strike, or being part of that moment where an entire nation holds its breathe, tell me that football is not our one common language when the whole planet stops for 90 minutes to be a witness to one thing we all understand. Yeah, you can tell me that I’m wrong. Some may say it’s just a game….but this is about heroes and tribes, loyalty and devotion, it’s our commitment and our passion, our battle and our belief. This is our Faith!,” said Eric Cantona who was deemed “King Eric” by Manchester United Football Club.
Well now I can only say to the players that will be on the pitch starting June 11 through July 11, go and play beautifully for the world to see.
By Juan Montes