They call it the beautiful game.
Millions and millions of fans across the globe obsess over their favorite clubs and players. Their every move studied with a huge microscope that is never lifted or adjusted. The sport is constantly the focus of nations of people. It shouldn’t be called a sport, it should be a religion.
“It was insane,” senior Spanish major Janine Faulls said, who was studying abroad in Granada, Spain while the World Cup was being played. “Towards the end of the tournament, we had to watch the games through the windows of bars because they were so packed that we couldn’t get inside. You could immediately tell when the game was over because people were on the streets again.
This past summer, the 18th FIFA World Cup was held in Germany. If there’s a Mecca for soccer fans, this is it.
Held only once every four years, this event is like nothing else the world has to offer. An estimated 2 billion people tuned in or attended the month-long event, which is a number that has come to be expected for an occasion of this magnitude.
32 nations were represented in the event that started on June 9th and concluded at the final game between Italy and France on July 9th. The tournament trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, was won by Italy after the game went to penalty kicks and was the fourth time that the nation had reached the pinnacle of the sport, second to only Brazil.
The tournament itself was a spectacle to be seen. From the group stage that pits four teams against each other in three games, having the top two teams advance to the next round, to the final, it was nonstop action. The energy and excitement in the games was something that you can’t compare to any other event, sports or otherwise.
Brilliant goals were scored, great saves made, savage tackles handed out, all by the men who are at the top of their sport in their respective nations. The selection process alone for the 32 nations is an event in itself. It is a gala event that draws attention that rivals the games.
For the fans who weren’t lucky enough to actually attend the games, and they are the extreme majority, everything else that went on in their life became an afterthought. Nothing else mattered.quite literally. Stores closed, business shut down early, and as the fabled ESPN World Cup commercials detailed, a civil war initiated a temporary ceasefire to cheer on their team, the Ivory Coast. To put it simply, life halts for the World Cup.
“The streets are totally empty when the games are on,” said Faulls about life in Spain during the cup. “Even the bars without TVs were empty. Over here, I think that when people watch football, it’s just an excuse to party with their friends, but over there, drinking is definitely secondary, they just love the sport to an extreme that I’ve never seen anywhere else.”
That ‘anywhere else’, includes the football crazed city of Philadelphia, who boast some of the rowdy and enthusiastic fans in the country, and possibly the world.
But this installment of the cup is long since ended, with Italy as it’s champions, the world will have to wait another four years to celebrate the beautiful game in such an extravagant way. Thankfully, there is still club football played yearly, which should be enough to hold over the rabid soccer fans of the world until 2010, but then again, who knows, they might make a push for it too be sooner because the four year wait is just way too long.
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