No sporting event encapsulates those truths more than the World Cup. It is a once every four years, nation unifying, world stopping, political force, that happens to involve a ball, and a laundry list of the world's greatest soccer players (though unfortunately a number of them will be missing from this year's tournament for various reasons).
The World Cup is such a globally unifying experience, and yet it holds a different significance for everyone that watches it. Of course there are the teams you're rooting for, and the teams you're rooting against, but it is also an event defined by setting. Not just the setting of the tournament, but setting of the spectators and fans. Whether it is a pub in London, a piazza in Rome, a sold-out stadium in Rio, a cafe in Lagos, or a conference room in Presque Isle, Maine, each holds it's own power. That will be what comes to mind when you think of great saves, powerful goals, brutal tackles, and nimble footwork. It will bring back the taste of the beer, the brow full of sweat, and the butterflies in your stomach.
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There is another side of the World Cup: the off the field politics. FIFA is by most accounts a pretty terrible entity. It's a corrupt governing body, that often serves the interests of it's aging oligarchs, rather than the sport it is supposed to govern. New details have emerged in the perceived corruption of Qatar's 2022 bid, that saw a tiny nation with summer heat temperatures in the 120s, and very little sporting infrastructure, get awarded the World Cup. FIFA tried to maintain that there was no shady business going on, but now the floodgates seemed to have broken, with major sponsors stepping in to voice their concerns that too many back room deals, and briefcases full of money won Qatar the bid.
Brazil has it's own set of concerns, a set that doesn't appear to be dying in the days leading up to the tournament. Human rights protest, and even riots, have spread across the South American country, as the spending for the World Cup's infrastructure has overshadowed the lack of spending on Brazil's healthcare, education, and numerous other basic government duties. During last summer's Confederations Cup what many view as the dry run for the World Cup there we're numerous violent clashes between police and protesters, even during the final that saw Brazil dominate Spain 3-0. In the year since, other protests have sprung up, and there have even been fears about working conditions after eight laborers died at various times during the stadium construction process. The show will go on, but expect much more extra-curricular political protesting during the next month.
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Posted in Entertainment Post Date 06/03/2017