The World Cup is upon us once again. The tournament means a lot to a lot in more ways than one. Over the next 35 days and 64 matches there will be a plethora of moments filled with joy and others filled with outrage. A few people detest the World Cup, but on the whole it is a global religion, a worldwide communion that millions of people live for.
For all of these millions of fans around the world, the World Cup is a potent quadrennial with each tournament laden with memories of former ones. Chatter about lost friends and past selves can be heard while people sip cool beers in bars, on terraces, in stadiums or in front of tellies. The strange thing is, the words “World Cup” are on everyone’s lips whether they are interested in the sport or not.
Politically, the World Cup is a form of soft diplomacy. It is more than a safe outlet for nationalism. Suddenly, those who did not possess strong sentiments for their country, feel surges of pride as they stand erect to pay their respects to the national anthems, which sound differently.
The tournament also means there are people on the move. And when people are on the move so is money. Money spent on bets. Money spent in Russia, for improvements on infrastructure and refurbishments. Money spent by the tourists in hotels, shops restaurants stadiums and on any number of pleasures.
Yes, everything seems to be permitted during the World Cup. But this week, a certain Russian lawmaker decided that a number of things, such as sex with non-whites, should be avoided, claiming that this could lead to single mothers to mixed-race children. And yet another politician declared that foreign fans could bring viruses to the World Cup and infect the Russians.
Yes, the World Cup does seem to mean so much to so many in so many different ways!