While Americans are eagerly counting down the days until college football season begins, the rest of the world is going crazy over another type of football, i.e., what we call soccer. The 21st FIFA World Cup is underway and will continue through July 15th. It’s not March Madness–it’s match madness!
Even if you aren’t a sports fan, the World Cup offers plenty of opportunity for you to be entertained. Not up on all the rules and procedures of the sport? No problem. Those who don’t know a yellow card from a greeting card can still get a kick out of the much ballyhooed World Cup series. Consider the following tidbits.
JUST THE FACTS. Thirty-two countries are participating in the World Cup. Thirty-one had to qualify, but the host team, Russia. got a pass. This is the first World Cup to be held in Eastern Europe, so Russia is really PUTIN on a show. The host country has spared no expense, and, at a cost of around $14.2 billion, it will be the most expensive World Cup ever. Matches are scheduled in 12 different stadiums in 11 different Russian cities. Moscow being so important, it has 2 stadiums located there.
SHOW ME THE MONEY! If you think the 32 teams are playing simply for the love of the sport, you are naïve. The green in the player’s eyes is not the grass in the sports arena but the prize money available. The team winning the World Cup receives $38 million dollars. The runner up team takes home $28 million dollars to soothe the “close but no cigar” blues. Teams who place 17th through 32nd receive a paltry $8 million.
THE SPACE RACE. While Donald Trump is touting plans to start up a U.S. Space Force, Putin is leaving him in the space dust. The June 14th opening ceremony for the World Cup featured the presentation of an official match ball which had been sent into space with the International Space Station crew (that’s ISS not to be confused with ISIS) back in March and returned to Earth in early June. That ball seen in the sky during that time may have been the match ball and not the moon.
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY! While the soccer matches might provide nail-biting drama, just getting to the stadium can be pretty dramatic. The Saudi Arabian national team’s plane experienced an engine malfunction on a flight to Rostov-on-Don. Flames were seen coming out of one of the engines prior to the plane landing in the southern Russian city where a match against Uruguay was to be held. The team landed safely but apparently flamed out too soon as they lost to their South American opponent 1-0.
USE YOUR HEAD! In the U.S. the phrase “use your head” is uttered to encourage someone to engage his brain when handling a situation. But soccer players use their heads all the time to knock the ball around the field; sometimes their brains are not engaged when this heading occurs. Take Morocco’s poor Aziz Bouhaddouz for example. In a forehead slapping move, he headed the ball into his own team’s net to hand Iran a 1-0 victory over Morocco in the opening round of the World Cup. Oops! And, yes, his blunder made HEAD-line sports news.
THE AGONY OF DE-FEET! Iran may have had a win handed to them by Morocco, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Iranians. Just days before their opening match, Nike, who was to provide cleats and footwear for them, announced it was withdrawing its support of the Iranian team due to global economic sanctions against Iran. You might be able to tiptoe through the tulips, but you need soccer shoes to play in World Cup matches. Iranian players scrambled to beg, buy or (hopefully not) steal appropriate footwear.
NO GIRLS ALLOWED! The more fans the merrier, right? No, not in Iran where women have been banned from watching men’s sports for 38 years. Iran’s clerics imposed this ban in 1979 following the Islamic revolution, but it was publicly reinforced in the country earlier this year. Iranian fans protested the ban during Iran’s opening World Cup match against Spain when banners reading #NoBan4Women” and “Support Iranian Women to Attend Stadiums” were unfurled. Thank goodness the Iranian players found footwear so (GASP!) the Iranian women who are no doubt secretly watching their televised matches did not gaze upon any bare male feet.
THE SPY WHO ROOTED FOR ME! Due to the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil, Britain announced that no British ministers and no British royals would be attending any World Cup events. No mention was made as to whether any British spies would be on hand to keep an eye on things. If they are, they might return from Russia with–no, not love–but some good intel.
Like it or not, the World Cup will be dominating sports news until mid-July. If you can’t get a kick out of watching the ball being kicked around a Russian stadium, you can still get a kick out of the interesting news surrounding the World Cup events. You can have a ball either way!
Just WONDER-ing: Are you planning to watch any of the World Cup? If so, for what team are you rooting? If not, would you be watching if the U.S. was playing in it?
8 thoughts on “Getting A Kick Out Of The World Cup”
Great humorous approach to what many take to seriously
Thanks, but winning a $38 million prize is serious business! 🙂
I’m not going to watch it. If the US were playing I might follow it. Once again well written, Alice!
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Thanks for reading, Diane. I confess that I haven’t watched a match yet. Would be much more likely to if the US was in the World Cup.
As usual, Alice, a great, pundiful post! However, I’ll be watching Wimbledon July -15!
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Thanks for reading, Marilyn. Somehow I just can’t get into watching tennis, but then I haven’t watched a single World Cup match yet either.
you are very punny, Alice! Good words and news, and yes, I’ll hopefully watch some football.. just have to find out when a match is on that has interest.
Thanks for reading, Jack. It just isn’t the same watching the World Cup on TV here in the US. Was in Europe on a tour a few years back during a World Cup and got caught up in “football” fever. Never forget standing in the street in Delphi, Greece outside a bar with a large crowd watching a match on the TV inside. Now that was an experience!