Epilogue of a Football Fiesta

Copa Do Mundo

The title of this short writing is the Portuguese translation of the World Cup. Football is considered as one of the most popular and attractive team games played by all nations of the world.

It is reported that modern soccer has evolved from ball games played by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times. In the pre-Christian era, the Chinese used to kick a leather ball with their feet. Contests between two sides were held by tribes of different countries in the distant past. Since then, the game of disorderly ball kicking has evolved. Codes have been introduced to make the game more attractive, fair and less violent. The rough nature of the game gave it the pejorative name of “mob football” as it was considered as a mob game by English aristocrats.

England is recognised as a country which codified modern football, and Scotland created the first football club. To promote the game, the king waived the tax levied by the authorities and conditions were created for children of working class families to participate in the game.

Women also showed their interest in the game and they contributed to making it a universal one. Soccer played by ladies, though less physical, is thrilling and appealing. Female players have brought charm and sweetness to the game. A lady was even nominated as manager of a first division team in France but her hopes could unfortunately not be realised due to obscure reasons.

The ‘Fédération Internationale de Football Association’ (FIFA) was set up in Paris to assemble the Associations of all continents, and the first World Cup was staged in Uruguay in 1930.

This year Brazil had the privilege of hosting the World Cup for the second time. FIFA gave all its support to make this football fiesta a success in spite of the social unrest that this great football nation is facing. A new stadium has been built in the vicinity of the Amazonian forest; others have been renovated with the expectation that the creation of new infrastructure would provide employment to the poorer communities. If this vision is fulfilled, the underprivileged will pay floral tribute to King Football in a few years.

Technology and scientific marketing have contributed in taking this event to all five Continents. Football fans who have not had the privilege of travelling to Brazil may have watched the matches comfortably at home on large-screen TV. The Brazilian population is a blend of races, colours and cultures and this diversity was reflected in the stadiums: the meeting place of supporters and well-wishers full of ‘joie de vivre’ in a typically South American ambience.

The prelude to matches was in itself a magnificent spectacle giving it an air of Brazilian Carnival. Colourful national costumes, imaginative face painting and beating of drums to the tune of Samba music contributed to highlight the tradition of this immense country.

The entrance of players on the pitch enthusiastically acclaimed by the public was a moment of great excitement. Cheers grew in crescendo until the national anthem of each country was played. Chanting inspired confidence in players, raised their patriotic feelings and lifted their spirit of sportsmanship. Fans could for the first time discover and appreciate their official outfits and the modernistic design of their footwear. Once the whistle of the referee was blown, players were aware that the match could only be won by following to the letter the instructions of their manager; only technical virtuosity could override his directives.

Collective play, the perfect synchronisation of mind and body and self-control were essential virtues to outwit the opponent. Vocal support of their fans lifted the spirit of the squad and stimulated the players to give the best of themselves. Players knew that impulsive behaviour could provoke the referee to flash the red card which meant expulsion of even the most gifted player. The final whistle of the Italian referee brought to a close a most entertaining event. In spite of their limited financial resources small nations have demonstrated that they could produce quality football by playing with their mind and soul. They have faced stronger nations with courage and determination and have even succeeded in knocking out world-class teams. They should be considered as the unsung heroes of the contest.

After the semi-finals, the Germans celebrated their convincing victory over the home team with humility and the disappointed Brazilians, overcome by emotion, were in tears. The World Cup has transcended racial prejudices. This year FIFA’s moto was No To Racism. Lilian Thuram, World Champion from the French football squad, quite rightly made the following comment “the only race in the world is the human race.”

The German squad was received in their homeland with all the pomp worthy of new World Champions.

The world has witnessed the entente cordiale among players and fans of different nations for one exciting month. We have appreciated the talents of emerging football stars who will shine in prestigious clubs, and observe the dwindling popularity of others.

* Published in print edition on 18 July 2014

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