32 rea­sons why the World Cup is magic

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

For any cred­i­ble foot­ball fan, time stands still when the World Cup is on – for­get any prior so­cial en­gage­ments or those fool­ish enough to have a wed­ding or birth­day party while the tour­na­ment is in full swing.

None-foot­balling friends may desert you and the wife may file for di­vorce or take the kids to Canada – no mat­ter, the show must go on.

No gar­den­ing will be done, DIY ven­tures around the house are in lock­down, no er­rand will be too big to refuse – why? Be­cause tricky Morocco are play­ing the mighty Iran or solid Ser­bia are in with a shout against the yo­delling Swiss.

These are the kind of games that test your World Cup loy­alty. You know it’s go­ing to look good in Ul­tra High Def­i­ni­tion, but it can be turgid stuff at times – un­fa­mil­iar names play­ing cau­tious unimag­i­na­tive foot­ball.

And then watch­ing Eng­land flat­ter to de­ceive dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence al­to­gether.

Never mind, that’s part of the spec­ta­cle of a World Cup fi­esta that comes around ev­ery four years to brighten up what is usu­ally a foot­ball-bar­ren sum­mer.

I will be root­ing for Eng­land, as usual, and look­ing out for the Chelsea play­ers in other teams to do well, al­though with Bel­gium pit­ted against the Three Lions, I’m hop­ing Eden Hazard has a rare off day.

Doubt­less to say there will be some great games, while oth­ers will be worse than the stale piece of pep­per­oni pizza you dropped be­hind the couch. It doesn’t take much to keep us happy for 90 min­utes. As long as the ac­tion un­folds on wide-screen TV, ac­com­pa­nied by a bucket of choles­terol washed down with cold beers – or in the like­li­hood that Eng­land lose, make that


a a bucket of beers spiced with cold choles­terol.

The charisma and sta­tus of the World Cup en­sure it at­tracts even the dourest non-be­liev­ers who are lured by the fu­sion of emo­tion, pa­tri­o­tism, high drama and in­ex­pli­ca­ble bad luck or for­ti­tude.

Cer­tainly, Rus­sia will have its own sto­ries to tell and a legacy to pass on, de­spite the tour­na­ment tainted by pol­i­tics and fears that vi­o­lence and racism will rear its ugly head in and out­side sta­di­ums.

To counter racism, FIFA will de­ploy three an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion match ob­servers for each of the 64 matches. Ref­er­ees will also have the right to stop or aban­don a game in case of racist in­ci­dents.

Crit­ics will crow that Moscow should never have been awarded this pres­ti­gious event and the Bri­tish Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments are boy­cotting Rus­sia.

Ar­guably this is a rather churl­ish act, see­ing as both the Soc­ceroos and Eng­land are play­ing in the month-long tour­na­ment.

The open­ing match and fi­nal of each World Cup are usu­ally richly at­tended by heads of state and gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives, be­com­ing in­for­mal ne­go­ti­at­ing events but anti-Rus­sian sen­ti­ment in the West has cast its shadow over the event.

We shouldn’t be­grudge Rus­sia hold­ing a suc­cess­ful World Cup as it’s cost­ing them an eye-wa­ter­ing $12 bil­lion and what are the odds of the hosts los­ing to Saudi Ara­bia in the open­ing game? Ouch.


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