That time is here again! The World Cup. Every 4 years the nations of the world get together to clamour for the cup in a friendly competition. The greatest venue for soccer is always a great watch and I look forward to it constantly but, I do also feel conflicted about it in many ways. The World Cup suffers from the same fate as many sports events in the world: commercialisation. You are just trying to watch the highest tier of soccer in the world and you then have to see a bunch of ads for Budweiser or Coca-Cola or whatever company has decided to buy a spot. Soccer is not really the worst offender, other American sports are much worse. Like, in American sports after every big power play you see: “THE AT&T POWER ACTION REPLAY! SPONSORED BY SUBWAY!”. It is quite annoying, to say the least. Soccer is a much needed departure from this intense commercialisation but, problems are still there. I see these problems of over-commercialisation in American broadcasts of the World Cup or other non-American sports. They Americanise them to make them more digestible to the average American that has never watched soccer before. This is not a bad thing necessarily, it just gets annoying for those of us who know about the sport and do not need the commentator to explain what every principal rule is. They do this mostly for Premier League matches where they control the direct broadcast. For things like the World Cup, FIFA maintains control of the broadcast. That brings up another issue; FIFA sucks.
FIFA is one of the most corrupt organisations in sports today. Like, my god, they are terrible. The whole fiasco with Sepp Blatter a few years back is no secret to anyone but, that is not even the surface of FIFA corruption. During the World Cup in Brazil, FIFA made the government change laws to accommodate their corporate ties. The prime example of this was the changing of Brazil’s ban on alcohol in stadiums. This was put in place due to soccer’s fairly notorious reputation relating to fan violence. FIFA came in and made the government change the law due to their ties with Budweiser and other alcohol companies. While the World Cup itself saw little violence, other club-level matches saw increased violence. There was also an increase in traffic accidents during the times around major sporting events. This whole situation where FIFA is making countries change their laws is really shady. Then we come to the glaring issue of Qatar. The 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar, a country notorious for draconian laws and gross human rights abuses. One of these principal abuses is the use of migrant workers that are almost slaves. These workers are used by the Qatari government to build the stadiums and do other major functions related to preparing for the World Cup. There is also the issue of the weather. Heat is a big issue for many of the players and workers. There is also the issue of a lack of natural grass in the country, leading to the use of turf. To the laymen outside of sports, this may seem like a non-issue but, turf-burn is terrible and combined with the blistering heat is even worse.
Now with some of the problems I have with FIFA and the World Cup out of the way, I will attempt to fulfil the name of the post and talk about why I love it. The soccer is just top notch, there are always tons of entertaining matches. That first day blow-out of the Saudis by the Russians was really satisfying. I was surprised to see Saudi Arabia qualify, they are garbage, as a country and as a team. Speaking of the qualifiers, I was fairly mad at the fact that Ireland was kicked out of it by the Danish. Now, I have no problems with Denmark but, all I am saying is that those pastry-sucking morons need to get eliminated early. The team I like is Iceland, I like a good underdog. Their first match is against Argentina which is, not hopeful but, I like to think they will do good. Any team that can stick it to the English is a team I can get behind. I was also kinda happy to see Iran do as well as it has. Their win against Morocco was great and they have really become a decent team recently, unlike the Saudis. As for who will take the whole thing, that is hard to say for me. My picks are Spain, Portugal, Brazil, or maybe France. I think my hope for France is wishful thinking but, I like to dream. If Ireland were in it, they would win. I don’t care if that is not true, it is my truth. Another thing, it is hilarious that the Americans did not make it. I kinda like the ego deflation that Americans experienced in relation to that. Plus, wherever the US is not, the quality of the soccer goes up. I mean, watching the US play soccer is like a watching a train crash in slow motion most of the time. Although they have gotten better recently. I was surprised to see that Italy and the Netherlands did not qualify but, also I am not surprised. The problem with a lot of European teams is that their squads often do not change and get old, hence they do not play as well. It is just a natural consequence, they are good one year then 4 years later are absolute garbage.
Well, that is about all I have to say for now. I might do another one of these just to get my thoughts out. I kinda like writing less serious things from time to time. Change is nice sometimes, most of the time really.
EDIT: Iceland tied with Argentina which was great. Not a win but, come on Cinderella Iceland!