FIFA WORLD CUP 2018:
How Soccer Brings Cultures Together
FIFA, the global governing body also known as Federation Internationale de Football Association, founded the FIFA World Cup in 1930. The World Cup, which takes place in a different host country every four years, is a global soccer competition between 32 teams from dozens of different nations, including the host nation who automatically qualifies for the tournament matches.
If you ask anyone, I am not a sports fan at all; however, after hearing about all of these different nations coming together for this prestigious sporting event, I had to do more digging—not only about the tournament, but also about how lives are changed and connections are made when so many people of different backgrounds are together in one stadium to cheer on a sport they all collectively love.
This year, the matches are being held in Russia and will continue until July 15th, when the cup is awarded to the winning nation. This is the first time the World Cup has been held in Eastern Europe, and in a country that straddles two different continents: Europe and Asia! Once the tournament ends, there will have been 64 matches played in 12 different venues throughout Russia. The final game will take place in Moscow at Luzhniki Stadium.
Most countries in the world are part of FIFA, but they must qualify by winning matches against other teams in their region over the span three years to be included in the tournament phase.
This year’s competing regions include:
What is truly amazing about FIFA is how it brings soccer players and fans alike from these respective regions to one stadium to cheer on their favorite teams and players. It is incredible to see such a huge variation of people from different corners of the world come together for this in an act of love and passion instead of combativeness. In soccer, it is so easy to travel the world and find an English soccer fan rooting for the team from Egypt or for several different players spanning from Uruguay to Brazil. This is something you don’t see in any other event in the world.
Of course, there is always going to be good and bad to anything—be sure to read up a bit on the controversy of bribing from the 2014 matches—but so many people are still able to come together, and that is important.
FIFA is not only about the soccer, it is a great opportunity for cultural travel for the host country! Check out these stats on how tourism in Brazil boomed after the FIFA games in 2014.
When visiting the official FIFA website, you can see a special section of the home page dedicated to Russian tourism, with links educating website visitors about Russia’s history, architecture, arts, and culture among other things.
Traveling to a different region is always an amazing learning experience, and you will always bring back great memories, but the FIFA games not only bring together fans, they can even bring peace to involved nations.
A great and heartwarming example of this comes from the story of Didier Drogba, a soccer player representing the Ivory Coast, a team that qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 2005. Instead of taking the time to celebrate their victory and the excitement, there were more pressing concerns regarding the state of the Ivory Coast and the civil war that it was in the middle of.
The members of the team knew they had to do something to try and create peace across the region. Didier Drogba spoke to press together with his team, pleading that the military lay down their arms to celebrate this victory for all Ivorians—qualifying for the World Cup.
In early 2007, the two warring sides signed a peace treaty after a ceasefire, triggered by Drogba’s speech. You can read more about the details of the story, the Ivory Coast, and see the video of Drogba’s speech here.
As you can see, this tournament is more than just the sport being played, it is the unity of cultures and regions cheering on their favorite players, and most of all, enjoying the company of the new people they meet.
For live updates until the final match, check out the FIFA official twitter page for up to the minute news.
Do you have a favorite sport that brings people together, or a favorite memory of cheering on your favorite player or team? Let us know! And don’t forget to pin!