Thursday , 24 January 2019

Football is back, to unite all

Sports Editor

The FIFA World Cup – the biggest and longest party in the world – begins today. Billions all over will party in their own style waiting to see where the star will shine the brightest in the ‘United Nations of Football’.
Thirty two countries from 211 start their quest for a title that unifies the World through ninety minutes– on a stage with twenty two men running after a football. A football that plays with human emotions as no other object can; a bounce that makes or breaks.
The action begins today with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia. Both teams have qualified for the World Cup thrice and have never left much noteworthy in those times. Both qualified for the World Cup in 1994. Saudi Arabia managed to make it to the round of 16 in its debut while Russia have never made it past the group stages.
Football connects with emotion; connect that is yet to be understood. And it is this connect that brings joy to the poorest and status to the richest. Hard work is the thread that binds this link with football and humans.
Australia, Egypt, Panama and Iceland are the four countries making their debut in this World Cup. India is not in the World Cup but millions all over the country will be part of the party because the diversity is so beautiful. The best players are on stage for their country to show the world that they count amongst the best in the world.
The World Cup is not about money. Players earn more elsewhere. The various leagues and many tournaments through the year are the cash machines of football while the World Cup, once in four years, is the theatre of dreams.
The football fan will start this tournament hoping the best for his country and for his player, knowing well that the game hinges on unpredictability; that nothing is certain in football.
This World Cup, like others in the past, will have Goa on a swing. As Portugal and Brazil continue to be the favourites of many, Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Spain and even Egypt have carved niches for themselves. The soft corner for Portugal or Brazil will open up in Goa as these two countries march forward into the tournament.
The 2018 World Cup in Russia has a special touch for football fans in Asia because of the time difference between Russia and Asia. No more very late nights or early mornings. The action starts in the evening and ends after midnight.
Whatever, football is back, to unite all.

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