The World Cup stands alone. There is no need to qualify the title of this tournament with FIFA, (the governing body of international soccer), or to identify what sport we’re talking about in the first place.
We all get it.
Having been to South Africa, I can assure you that regardless of circumstance, everyone plays. The rich and the poor, boys and girls, Zulu and Xhosa — they all chase the globe-like ball on lush green fields or in dusty streets that weave through the shanties of devastated townships.
Soccer is the world’s game.
Now the greatest players from the far reaches of the Earth have gathered for the first time on the African continent. It’s up to them to put on a show and become the embodiment of so many hopes and dreams. Only they are able to translate a cacophony of dialects into a common language that all of us can understand.
For a time, Wayne Rooney will be the lion of England, and Argentina will rely on the brilliance of Lionel Messi to write the next chapter in the history of that football-mad nation.
It’s all about the players and how they reflect the fans.
As I watch our two distinguished analysts do “kick about” on the fancy television set that’s been built at the CBC, I understand the World Cup is everything.
Jason de Vos, the former captain of Canada, took his team to a Gold Cup victory in 2000. He still juggles the ball deftly but he’s feeling an overwhelming emotion.
“Envy,” de Vos says. “I would love to be in their shoes. That’s what it’s all about — to pull on your country’s jersey and compete at the World Cup. That’s why I started playing as a seven-year-old. Unfortunately, I never got that chance.”
But John Collins did. The smallish striker for Scotland scored against Brazil at the 1998 World Cup in France.
“You know you are representing your country,” Collins says in a thick brogue.
“You know the whole nation is watching on television. Life comes to a standstill.”
The world will be watching and in a multicultural country like Canada there are not one but 32 teams to mirror our fortunes.
The G20 summit can’t come close to this.
The World Cup is, hands down, the greatest show on Earth.
– Gemini Award winner and author Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. A 20-year CBC Sports veteran, he has covered a variety of professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.