This interesting post is by our friend Sav.
My first memories of ‘the world cup’ are from 1990.
To this date I am not sure if its a ‘real’ memory, or one of those you imagine you had by piecing together what you were told of the events that transpired. As I was only 4 years of age, the details are vague regardless.
Well the stage was set.
World Cup Final.
West Germany vs Argentina. A rematch to boot!
My father and his brothers were watching the match with such an intensity as I had not yet seen in men. They were literally on the edge or over the top of their seats, barely able to contain themselves at the prospect of this, football’s golden trophy. And all I wanted to do was watch cartoons. Well, we had one of those old TVs, the ones before remotes – and I edged ever closer, eyes flitting between spectacle and spectator, waiting for my chance to change the channel. My nerve broke and I went for it and changed the channel – only a split second passed and I changed it back as they let out a roar of anguish! I wanted to watch cartoons during the world cup final. To this date I am amazed at my utter lack of perspective.
Well by the time 1994 popped up, I had started to follow football. And by 1998 even I could see that Zidane fellow was quite good. 2002 was during my exams but I remember that goal for Ronaldinho and the final that Brazil won. The last worthy Brazilian side in my opinion. 2006 came and I stood amazed as France somehow did not win. Everyone points to Zidane but the turning point was Viera going off (cramp wasn’t it?) – his driving runs from midfield were opening up the Italians. It was only a matter of time. Bloody football, eh. 2010 finally came and this time I saw Africa host a world cup.
And after you have indulged me with my incoherent rambling, I shall endeavour to get to my point – eventually.
I am a South African by birth and as such I – along with all of Africa – found great pride to see the 2010 World Cup awarded to South Africa. I also found it very interesting. Brazil 2014, Russia 2018, Qatar 2022. These appointments only confirmed a trend. A trend it seems started under Havelange and carried on by Blatter.
FIFA is an odd beast. I will admit that I have not gone into in-depth research – but altruism and idealism married to corruption is an odd combination.
I shall outline my contention first and then attempt to show evidence. Basically, I have come to believe that FIFA under Blatter has a specific goal – maybe not the main goal, but specific nonetheless – of integration. Integration of regions into the global fraternity. Getting awarded a world cup does not just affect that particular country – its affects the entire region. National pride, regional pride – but more than that, a sense of ‘we have made it’ – ‘we have arrived’, as it were.
To truly understand why this matters to developing regions requires a history lesson that is not really necessary. It is also a very touchy topic. The gist is that Asia, Africa and the other developing regions were demoralised. There was – and perhaps still is – a very real sense that they were/are not equal to those fortunate enough to be born in western Europe or America (or Canada/NZ/Australia – lets not forget the Commonwealth).
The developing world was and is growing economically but they had need of a morale boost, a way for the everyman (and woman) to feel they belonged in the global community. A question of belonging, of self confidence. Besides FIFA, I do not see a single organisation making any attempt to address this pressing issue that is so important to the future of all humanity.
East Asia got their boost in 2002.
Africa was recognised as being capable in 2010.
Brazil is an emerging an economic power and 2014 confirms that status to their people and perhaps is a message of hope to all South America.
Russia hosting the cup in 2018 is an indication that they belong in Europe and not ostracised – although goodness knows how the recent events in Ukraine effect all that.
And 2022 in Qatar. CORRUPTION!! They bought it!! Complain, complain, complain. What balls does it take to give the world cup to a muslim country in the era of ‘the war on terror’. The Arab world, the Muslim world, has been villified from the shores of the Atlantic to the plains of Pakistan. What does a world cup in Qatar – a stable country amidst an unstable region – say to the region. Surely, a message of hope and of integration and confidence that the region will one day overcome its current strifes.
What’s the point?
Well, I see a trend. Sure, FIFA are looking at expanding markets and building revenue. But what about the people? How do they feel to host a world cup?
In 2002 I was in high school in New Zealand and many of my good friends were from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, let alone Indonesia and Thailand. They took immense pride in the Football World Cup being played in east Asia. It was as if they had been accepted into the global fraternity in a very real and tangible way. Shown to be equals in a way that the everyday man and woman on the street could appreciate.
2010 in South Africa was the same. And now Brazil 2014. Although, I daresay Brazil’s organisers have been somewhat the architects of their own demise. But the trend is there. Football as integration. Football as a tool for global equality.
FIFA have previous in these matters. Germany won the world cup against Hungary after WW2. It gave a confidence boost to a demoralised West Germany. Beaten in war, all their young men dead or in a gulag – the country cut in half. How badly did they need a ‘win’, any win?
It would seem that winning the world cup is a great confidence booster for a nation short on confidence. And even being awarded a host of a world cup brings about self confidence for entire continents.
What do you think?