BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The FIFA World Cup held every four years is a carnival of cultures encapsulated in football. People from all over the world meet to celebrate a game that throws up different characteristics of humans; characteristics that show the strength and frailty of the human mind which ends in celebration through dance and song.
World Cups have had a similar line or were played on familiar renditions in the past but the one being hosted closer to home – in Qatar- from November 20 will be different in some ways because of certain deviations that needed to be made to adjust from the shift to Asia.
World Cups were always held in June, a time after leagues the world over had ended and Europe and south Americans were bracing for a nice summer. The summer is hot in Asia and unbearable in Qatar and hence the need to have the games in December when the heat does not torture as much.
By awarding the hosting rights to Qatar, FIFA has given the citizens of the country a window to break from the societal practices of the past where many things were and still are taboo. But, as the government in Qatar must be realising, when you invite the world to the country, the country needs to adapt to the needs of the world and hence the awakening through football.
World Cups, through the years, have not just been about football but the joy of living that the game offers. Football in Europe and South America is a way of life where the bounce of the ball dictates the heartbeat. Football is a game that gives solace to millions in the worst of times and that is one explanation the game is always tagged to beautiful.
Asia is beautiful and its beauty is assimilated differently by its vast cultural landscape. What is taboo in one place may not be in the other and yet there is an inbuilt understanding of the lines to be drawn. The World Cup in Qatar is bound to extend these lines to acceptable frontiers that were forbidden in the past.
People, travel not just to meet, see and experience humanness but see firsthand, some of the best players live in action. For many, it’s a journey from fantasy to reality. An occasion to see Messi, Vinicius Jr, Ronaldo …etc, etc from as close as a few meters away.
For followers of the game and to those for whom football is a way of living the World Cup in Qatar will be a lesson on learning the curve of professionalism and passion that is so integral to the game.
Football is a profession to many. It just not feeds players and their families but thousands of others who are its ancillaries. It is an industry which deeply stirs the emotions of its proponents and how those emotions react during the World Cup will be an indicator of how professionalism blends with passion.
Unlike in the past when World Cups were held at the end of most leagues, the story is different this time because for the very first time in the history of the World Cup, the tournament is being held by giving a break to leagues all over the world. That means players need to go back to clubs that feed them and the question of how much are players ready to risk themselves for the passion of their country arises.
Clubs provide a professional base to all linked to football whilst a country provides a platform to express one's passion for one's country and football is the common link. So, how much will players risk for their country?
This will be something that will be watched as all players will go back and start playing for their clubs and for that, they will need to be free of injury.
Many football professionals are going to Qatar to observe this facet of the game that has eluded many fans. Will soccer stars give their hundred per cent on the field for their country or will they reserve their best for their clubs that they will have to return to after the tournament without sufficient recovery time?
Technically, this is a tactical observation which could show an element of humanness we are aware of but prefer not to accept and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar could set it right.