It’s the World Cup!

Every four years, the largest athletic event in the world takes place. Nations stop everything they are doing ( well, almost everything) and hold their collective breaths as they watch their athletes try to bring home glory to their country. No, it’s not the Olympics…’s the World Cup. After 2 years of qualifying tournaments, the 32 representative teams are meeting in Brazil to decide which nation has the best collection of soccer players.

Of course, it’s not that simple. There are some countries who feel they should be playing but didn’t make it…..some in very dramatic and heartbreaking circumstances (Panama- probably the toughest  exit). There is the fact that a European country  has never won in South America. There are injuries that hurt teams (France) ,there is the weight of incredible expectation (Brazil), there is homegrown skepticism resulting from many disappointing cups (England). Of course, there is the joy of just being in Brazil (Mexico), of careful optimism (Switzerland) , of the idea that being in the cup at all is the most fun thing possible (Australia).

This is FIFA’s showcase and considering the fact that many  host countries have to prepare for years, the event usually comes off well. This year the  Brazilians have faced economic problems, construction issues, demonstrations in the streets against the tournament because of the strain on the country’s resources. Contrary to popular opinion, everyone in Brazil is not apparently  a soccer nut. However, many say that once the games begin, even the demonstrators will don their yellow/ green and dance and sing while their team dances around opponents in their unique Brazilian way.

Any predictions of results won’t mean much in a couple weeks, or probably in a few days. Of course, Brazil is the favorite, Germany is always strong, Argentina has got the players although perhaps not the teamwork, Italy’s defense always rises to the World Cup occasion and Portugal has a somewhat beaten -up Christiano Renaldo, who might be capable of pushing them beyond all expectations all by himself. And we have the good ole USA, with no chance to win, according to our own coach. For us The Group of Death has made any expectations tenuous at best.

But one thing IS for sure……if you are a soccer fan, this is IT. This is the best four weeks that has occurred in the last four years and will occur for the next four. This is the passion, the involvement ,the immersion , of soccer at it’s ultimate moment. So, it’s time to put aside petty things like the economy, climate change (or not) , small national differences ( does Crimea have a national team?) and watch our sport at it’s biggest and at the world’s single most watched event. Enjoy!

P.S. You can catch the Soccer Yoda’s views of the tournament as it unfolds at Twitter : @the_soccer_yoda   See you there!

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