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It’s "The World Game!" – FIFA 2010 in South Africa

June 11, 2010

Soccer World Cup is ON! and like millions and millions (billions?) of fans I am looking forward to an exiting, colourful and – hopefully – peaceful competition.

I don’t know if the expression ‘The World Game’ means soccer anywhere, but in Australia it’s the name of a weekly soccer show (the ONLY one on free to air TV) that shows all about the leagues, international competitions and cups of the whole world. I quite like the idea of this name, because of all ball games, football, soccer as they call it here, is the most universal, the easiest to understand and – important! – to improvise in the street, in the backyard or anywhere else.

All you need is something that can serve as a ball, some ruffled paper, a discarded tennis ball, a crushed can, and maybe some sticks or rocks to mark the goals. I don’t want to overstrain the picture of the "ghetto child turns soccer legend" but with the scouts of the big (and richer) nations now checking out more and more remoter areas of Africa and recruiting more and more younger boys, it is indeed possible for anyone. At least possible to dream.

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And even if you do not end up on the green – what a great party every one of the last World Cups has been! France, S.Korea & Japan, Germany.. yes, there have been incidents, and there will always be disruptive behaviour inside or outside the stadium. It’s a lot of people! It’s only a few that go overboard, on and off the field. Most supporters are out to have a good time, peacefully support their team and cheer a beautiful match.

The South African host will give their best. The enthusiasm of the population is obvious, the opening ceremony was as colourful as we expected and, as I am writing, the first match is starting. What a great opportunity for this country, for all participating countries actually, to show their flag on the map to the world and "give it all", even if there is only 11 players..

It is also a great distraction from what would be the grim reality of the townships, and again, of life in all ghettos and favelas or, closer to us, governmental housing commissions.
Of course, only few people have the privilege to see the matches (or one) in the stadium, but I believe a whole nation shares the fever of hosting this event and South Africa has a lot to give in passion and joy, especially as a country with a painful past and ongoing social troubles and great poverty for many.

I don’t suffer from hunger and don’t live in a cardboard box.
But I know that whatever personal problems I may have right now (and I do), I will find joy and entertainment for the next couple of weeks. I know my boy is looking forward to it too, and thanks to SBS, Australia’s multicultural channel, we will be able to follow the matches live at night, or the next day in full.

I never watched national leagues, but the soccer World Cup, along with the European Cup, are for me a very welcome distraction and I like the idea that, like me, hundreds of millions of fans will be watching and living the matches all over the World. For a moment, World Game becomes a little bit like World Peace, don’t you think ?

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