The World Is Watching
Looking At The World's Most Watched Sporting Event, The World Cup
Starting June 14, soccer fans from around the globe gather to support their nation in the World Cup soccer tournament. Four years ago, when Germany lifted the cup after edging out Argentina in a wild finals match, seems like a distant memory. It was 2014 then, and now years later, talent has come and gone, and the 32 teams who now represent the world’s soccer power gather to square off and prove why they are the best soccer team in the world.
The tournament is currently taking place in stadiums across Russia. The world is witnessing the finest display of international soccer. Since 1930, the World Cup has become an international spectacle in the sporting community. This tournament has increased national pride as people cheer on their home country, but it has also always brought together the world under one common and beloved sport, soccer. This year is no different. Common countries, seen in just about every World Cup like Brazil, England, Spain, and France and newer competitors in Panama and Iceland, will compete in this year’s World Cup.
Panama and Iceland make their first ever world cup appearance this year giving their natives a taste of World Cup craze. Those who have not seen highlights from Iceland’s 2016 European Cup debut surely need to watch it. Yes, right now.
The talk of this year’s competition however, is more about who is not making an appearance. Some soccer household names that might miss the setting, according to goal.com, are Karim Benzema of France, Dani Alves of Brazil, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden, and Joe Hart of England. From injuries, age, or bad luck, the international stage will certainly miss their presence. The world will miss out on a historic powerhouse Italy, a once-upcoming Chile team, a familiar Ivory Coast team in recent years, and an all too familiar Netherlands team.
Italy lost a heartbreaking qualifying game to Sweden by a crushing one goal defeat. Chile, the winner of the last two Copa America tournaments, had an interesting qualifying run. According to CBS Sports, Bolivia used an ineligible player in their match. The player went on to score a goal which would end the game in a one-to-one draw. The score was later repealed and Chile was rewarded three points.
In another game later on, Peru saw the same ineligible player play and instead of losing by a goal, Peru who was awarded a winning three points. Chile then lost to Brazil and Peru won its last game which put it ahead of Chile due to goal differential despite now having 26 points a piece. Peru is now in the World Cup and Chile is not, thanks to Bolivia. The Ivory Coast lost to Morocco two to nothing to get eliminated from the African World Cup qualifiers. The Netherlands, despite being a 2014 World Cup semi-finalist team, took third place in their group for the European World Cup qualifiers. Despite having the same record as Sweden, the Swedish team had goal differential in their favor.
The harshest disappointment of all that hits home comes from the United States National Team. After failing to qualify after losing in a qualifier match against Trinidad and Tobago, the future of soccer in America seems a bit bleak. In response to the game and reports that change is needed to improve American Soccer, Taylor Twellman, a ESPN analyst and former United States professional soccer player, said according to www.theringer.com, “You need new blood. You need new ideas. You need accountability. You need motivation. You need freshness. It's all of that. If there's no accountability for one's actions, no matter what your profession is, then quite honestly, what's the point?”
Unfortunately, American fans and homegrown 19-year-old Hershey, Pennsylvania superstar Christian Pulisic of the club Borussia Dortmund will have to support a different country this year from home. Nonetheless, there is hope that spirit will return American international play. The United States’ team has recently commenced changes in staff, lineups, and even have discovered new talents in Christian Pulisic as well as the 18-year-old duo in Josh Sargent and Tim Weah. They hope to return to the world stage on 2022 in Quatar.
The World Cup began on June 14 with a single match between the host country of Russia and Saudi Arabia at 11 a.m ending in a complete blowout. The Russian squad won five to zero. The next day, the World Cup’s action heated up with another three matches and continues until the 64th match which is called the coveted Cup Match. There have already been a few suprises in this year’s tournement, Iceland’s first ever World Cup game ended in a draw with Argentina, Mexico edged out Germany one to zero, and Colombia who was down a man due to a early red card lost two to one to Japan.
Fox and Telemundo have the rights to this year’s edition of the World Cup. FIFA, The International Federation of Association Football, has also returned its World Cup Bracket challenge, a way for fans to pick who will make it out of group stages and the one country to be crowned champions of the world. The challenge can be found at www.fifa.com. The winner of the challenge receives, according to FIFA, “a trip for two to Madrid to enjoy VIP treatment at an Atletico Madrid game, two economy class flights from anywhere in the world to Madrid with a three-night hotel stay, a VIP experience for two people at the Wanda Metropolitano, which includes watching a La Liga match and a personal meet-and-greet with some of Atletico players!” The world will surely be watching and getting those predictions in.