Love the World Cup
Rio, Brasil – Game is ON! The most anticipated event of 2014? Without a doubt will be the day to day events of the World Cup. It is beyond the joy of the beautiful game played at the highest level … … it is the tears, the heart wrenching unfolding of every tragic football tale (it is only a comedy when teams equate the “beautiful game” to diving, Louganis style). You see, football is not for the faint of heart. Much like life, football does not take commercial breaks, there is no time to reflect; try as it might, it is often not judged fairly, the “Hand of God” is as determinate as Iniesta’s goal for Espana in Soccer City. So here we go!
1) It’s about the fans! Olympics, sorry, takes a back seat. As much as Usain and Phelps shocks the world, it pales in comparison to the passion of a Barca supporters, or hey, Cardiff City. The supporters are lifers, it is trans-generational.
It goes beyond even a Yankees Red Sox game. It is everything for Selecao when they play. All 199 million people inhale and will not exhale until the 90th minute whistle. Wow, it is going to be INSANE!!!
2) It’s about the spectacle! People from all over the world converging to one place, focusing, for one large party. I have been to one Olympics, and it is a life changing experience. But the World Cup is experience plus the passion. O Que FESTA!!!! All eyes are on one game at a time, not a little figure skating here and a little luge there. It is all on Brasil vs. Croatia in 2 weeks!
3) It is on a very cursory level, about miracles in politics (if those two words can coexist), played out in human interaction on a pitch. With some exceptions, Serbia has played Croatia, Iran and USA, North vs. South Korea. Ostensibly, one views 2 groups of people who have historically conflicting people agreeing for 90 minutes. But the message is far more broad, far more profound. It shows us that we are all just people, we can get along beyond the 90 minutes. The differences are real, of course. But the similarities are more converging that we can ever realize. The time on the pitch allows us to see that, loud and clear.
4) It is beautiful! Never would I have thought that a 0-0 England v. Costa Rica game be still… at least mostly beautiful. But it is. The key word in soccer is buildup. Buildup in 200 languages and dozens of offensive strategies. Employment of strength and plotting against weaknesses are more obvious in this sport that others. The movement of the ball under those of Messi and Ozil is magical. It is not really about the shot to the net. It is the thinking on the pitch, the methodical ploy to undo another.
5) It is where heroes are made and villains remain! Zidane painted himself as an artist, the executor when he finished off Brasil, but he also became a villain in 2006. It does not matter what he did at Juventus or Real, it is all in the World Cup. So here are the heroes and villains:
– 1950, the hero was Alcides Ghiggia. He was from Uruguay. The score 1-2. All of Brasil cried.
– 1966, was it over the line? The infamous England victory marred by controversy, only to be repeated against the same side in 2006 (except it did not favor England the second time).
– 1966, Pak Doo Ik, scoring for North Korea against Italy in a goal of monumental proportions. The final score 1-0.
– 1970, the best team ever assembled by Brasil: Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino, Pele.
– 1982, Rossi’s 2 goals in the semis and one in the final made him the hero of the tourney. However, the semi final match between Argentina and Germany was probably one of the best games ever played. Four goals in extra time. Final score 3-3 with Germany winning in of course their dominant penalty taking!
– 1986, just mention the year, need we say more?
– 1994, this one rings true close to home being in North America. Baggio was the best in the world… so he thought, until he rung it on the crossbar in penalties and Brasil win their 4th cup.
– 2002, Go Reds was the most surprising semi finalist. They finished off Portugal, Spain, Italy, all heavy hitters. The fact that it happened in their home country was unthinkably effervescent.
– 1966, 1986, sure, let’s do 2006 (every 20 years), Headbutting not allowed.