Well my favourite sport Football, thankfully it’s the most popular sport in the world. Yes I know that it’s an understatement of the year and perhaps stating the obvious. More so when you consider that in the current year 2014, the Football Governing Body – FIFA has 207 nations as its members, in contrast United Nation has only 192 members world-wide.
My country India is currently ranked world no. 154 among the 207 FIFA member nations, not really a happy state of affairs that too in country teeming with people, with population in excess of billion. We can certainly do better as a football playing nation. In the 1950s, we were one of the leading football playing nations in the Asia. But good time didn’t really last and now we have slipped and slipped badly as a sporting nation. Unless India and its people consciously take a break from its cricket-mania, other sports might not come up to the desired level, not even hugely popular game of Football. But until that happens, who is stopping us from to enjoying the beautiful game from sidelines and celebrate the success of top teams with over the top celebrations.
With world’s attention firmly on FIFA World Cup 2014, even the leading politicians took time off to watch the game and cheer for their teams.
But how could Politics ever take back seat in modern times, as we discovered.
# Gotze goal in World Cup Final sent the Germany into ecstasy
Last Sunday, the honor of lifting the Football World Cup 2014 went to German football team. It’s a first for united German team; hope you do remember the unification of East and West Germany in the year 1990. Needless to say, when one nation scales the summit to become the Football World Cup Champion, then it’s a huge deal by any stretch of imagination. No doubt German Chancellor Angela Dorothea Merkel was present in Brazil stadium supporting her national team on their most important match.
And German Team didn’t disappoint her. For a unified Germany, the wait was 24 years long for the elusive World Cup. Interestingly, in 1990 FIFA World Cup, Germany had beaten Argentina with an identical score as it did the couple of decades ago. As we all know that Germany is Europe’s largest economy besides it is third largest exporter in the world.
The football field success is surely going to push Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Germany into another new level of achievements, economic or otherwise; it’s an ascent to the new peak.
# Howard saved goals and won the affection of entire USA
Football is still finding its feet and extending its roots in the most powerful country of the world, the United States of America. With a German legend Jurgen Klinsmann as Coach, the US national football team can be expected to reach for new heights. The amazing goalkeeping by US Goalkeeper has already acted as catalyst in Football’s growth in US.
It may be recalled that Tim Howard made record-breaking 16 saves against Belgium team and that made President Obama call him. The President also joked that he has received a petition to make Tim Howard the next Secretary of Defence. In fact, a fan rewrote the Wikipedia page and made Howard as US Secretary of Defence.
# Algerian Team donated $ 9 million World Cup prize money to people of Gaza
It was a brave world cup for Algeria, a North African nation who stole the hearts of foot-ball lovers with their gallant display against Germany, the cup-winner. But the Algerian Team’s decision to donate their prize money for the welfare of people living in Gaza received unequivocal praise.
Gaza is an 11 km long territory, which has witnessed far too much bloodshed in the recent years, between the Israel and Palestinian. As I type this, the bloodied-conflict continues at the Gaza.
# Iran was one of Asian team that played in world-cup
As an Asian Team, no doubt that Iran played well in the world-cup in Brazil. But the performance put up by the leading Asian Teams in the world cup highlights the huge gap that exists between the teams from European and American continents and that of Asian continents.
Even when hectic diplomatic parley were going on between Iran and Western Nations on the issues of Uranium and Plutonium Nuclear program, Iranian President took time off to watch the Iran team play. Ironically given the religious and patriarchal limitations of his nation, only half of Iran people could enjoy this game.
# An indigenous Guarani Tribal boy held up a banner reading ‘Demarcation Now’ in Brazil
Guarani Tribe is the Brazil’s largest tribal group. Yet, in Brazil the Guarani tribal people had to give up large tract of their land for cattle farms and sugar plantations done by the big ranchers. The tribal people were forcibly moved to the reservations (land) by the rich and powerful ruling elite with devastating consequences. Even now, more lands are being snatched away from the Guarami and other tribal groups. In this context the act of defiance showed by 13-year-old Guarami Tribe boy, Jeguaka Mirim is indeed exemplary.
So, on the opening game of the World Cup, Mirim unfurled the banner that displayed “Demarcacao” or “Demarcation Now” slogan. His banner was a cry for help put up by tribal groups trying to save their land rights.
Praising his son act, Mirim’s father, Olivio Jekupe, said his action “showed the world that we are not standing still … My son showed the world what we need the most: the demarcation of our lands.” Sadly, his message was censored by the official television camera crew, with very few people noticing the banner. But his message did sneak out.
It’s amazing that when the two worlds of Politics and Football met and collided, strange things have happened. Multi-ethnic country Germany gets united behind its Champion Football team, Americans develop the new-found taste for Football, the plight of people living in Gaza gets global attention, Iran might sign nuclear deal and the indigenous Tribal boy makes his voice heard world-wide.
That’s the amazing power of Football.
It’s not really surprising that Football has an ability and the power to break barriers in our small world.
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