The FIFA World Cup is the best sporting tournament anywhere on earth

Sean Mortell Roar Guru

By Sean Mortell, Sean Mortell is a Roar Guru

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34 Have your say

    Australia’s a pretty isolated country.

    Separate from the rumbles of the rest of the world, it means we may not hear of every movement, event, or happening. But despite our naturally ingrained love for sports played locally in the likes of AFL, rugby league, rugby union, cricket, tennis, swimming and netball, every four years you get reminded of an event that fosters our patriotic indulgence.

    Football is a particularly popular junior sport, yet is lacking in talent when it comes to the senior A-League in comparison to the majority of other world leagues such as La Liga and the Premier League.

    Yet just one look at the setting and atmosphere of a FIFA World Cup game and its obvious to see why so many Australians – Australians who couldn’t explain the offside rule – avidly awaken in the early morning to watch a game of football on the other side of the world.

    It’s occurred with me every four years during my childhood.

    Despite being a devoted Collingwood supporter, cricket lover and tennis follower, there’s something about a football World Cup that is simply intriguing. It began in Germany 2006, where our nation was aroused to this mystical and elusive tournament through the likes of Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and John Aloisi.

    I remember the PlayStation 2 game, the famous Zinedine Zidane head-butt, the glittery sunshine in Germany that played host to one pulsating party while the rest of my household commanded me to lower the TV volume with sleep-tussled hair. From then on, I’ve slowly understood why it is such a phenomenon for millions of Australians who don’t particularly enjoy or like soccer.

    On the night of Australia versus France, a congregation of my friends and I at a party refused the normal dancing and socialising to instead watch the game in the living room, decked out in yellow and chatting about intricacies of the game that none of us were particularly experts in. And it was fantastic.

    Since 2006, we have evolved to always get up and watch our Aussies, no matter how bad they are or who they play. I can recall the 2010 horror show against Germany, the 2014 opener against Chile where Cahill reared his talented head once more. But 2014’s Brazilian show reiterated why us Australians suddenly enjoy a sport once every four years.

    Mile Jedinak of Australia celebrates scoring a goal

    Mile Jedinak celebrates the goal which sent Australia to Russia. (Photo by Cameron J Spencer/Getty Images)

    When Cahill’s ridiculously good left footed volley brought all of awake Australia to their feet, it united us. And, in a world through our TV screens that is the opposite time zone to us, the comradery of watching during the early morning and the legends to tell from this well-run tournament appealed to our patriotism.

    And that’s what it is. In a country that holds sport so dearly, who wouldn’t love a tournament where we can rally around our nation and cheer on our players against more powerful adversaries on the other side of the world?

    We’re underdogs. It’s the Ashes but with more global recognition. It’s the Olympics but with more specific timeframes and a more cut-throat atmosphere. And regardless of what we think of soccer, Australians cherish this rare event because it appeals to everything Australian – to support Australia.

    If it can do this to a country that doesn’t give its players millions, or doesn’t view it as the most popular sport in the nation, then imagine the impact it has on Spain, France, Germany.

    By making us all feel worthy and powerful, along with the smooth and slick organisation, the inclusiveness of the FIFA World Cup makes it a spectacle that manages to entertain and enthral anyone, even the person who doesn’t particularly enjoy soccer. And which other sport can say that they do that to billions of people worldwide?

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • June 19th 2018 @ 7:35am
      dAN said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Still see that diving pisses off people who have never seen a game before.
      Actually the french player admitted he dived it just drives people away from the game.

      • June 19th 2018 @ 10:53am
        Lionheart said | June 19th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        ‘it just drives people away from the game’ – yeah, like in their billions around the world.

    • June 19th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Dan said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Except the diving is still giving the haters a reason to bag the game.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 19th 2018 @ 8:19am
      steveng said | June 19th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      ‘The FIFA World Cup is the best sporting tournament anywhere on earth’??? very questionable??? If FIFA could stamp out the ‘prima donnas diving contest(s)’ then it could be! Thank god that we don’t have Italy in the WC, as the theatrics would have been even worst! The VAR will make it worst just like it did for the NRL and the AFL that are becoming very frustrating sports to watch for all fans.

      • June 19th 2018 @ 9:42am
        Fadida said | June 19th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Name a bigger or better one. It’s miles ahead of the olympics in attendance and TV ratings . Entire countries stand still for game.

      • June 19th 2018 @ 7:24pm
        chris said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

        The aussie “sports” fans still going on about the Italy game and the pen. If you have no idea its usually best not to say anything.

    • June 19th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Post_hoc said | June 19th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Sean, I know you said you are a AFL and Cricket fan first, a little bit of research would show that every player in the Australian starting 11 against France palys or played in the A league. So the fact you don’t watch it yet feel that you can bag it is one thing, but to be so dismissive of the League that produced every single player in our starting line is just plain incompetent from a person that is supposed to be a sports writer.

      Happy for you to watch and enjoy the world cup, and yes you are correct it is the biggest and best sporting event in the world, just don’t dismiss things you don’t know or understand, ok.

      • June 19th 2018 @ 7:29pm
        chris said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

        But PH the A-League is ordinary while AFL has world class players that the author loves to watch. It’s that magical thing that happens only in the southern states of Australia. It’s really quite a phenomenon that has scientists baffled as to how Australians that play A-league are ordinary yet Australians that play AFL and cricket players are world class.

    • June 19th 2018 @ 8:41am
      Post_hoc said | June 19th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Funny how people that don’t watch Football give 1 example of why football isn’t great, it’s always the same thing. So I assume these people must have loved the swedish korea game this morning, no diving (btw it was a crap game for the rest of us football watches) but as it had no diving these Grobbelaar like fans must have loved it.

      Funny how they can’t seem to look past 1 issue, it is enough for them to write off the entire sport, yet when diving happens in AFL, sorry I mean staging, they might complain but still they tune in to watch. Or when they spend a season complaining about new rules, old rules, congested plays etc they still tune in. Their chosen sport could have a dozen things they don’t like but that’s ok, football has 1 and they write off the whole sport lol, makes me wonder.

      • June 19th 2018 @ 8:44am
        dAN said | June 19th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Good points

        • June 19th 2018 @ 9:47am
          Fadida said | June 19th 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          Australians just can’t get past the diving can they? Not “real men” . Much better to fight than dive.

          It can’t be just because it’s a form of cheating, as cricket has the highest rate of attempting to cheat, with appeals when players know it’s not out. Yet cricket is loved.

          Very odd

      • June 19th 2018 @ 7:31pm
        Anthony Ferguson said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

        In my experience, people who resent or don’t like the game run through a stock collection of reasons – diving, flares, crowd violence (they don’t know or care that it doesn’t happen any more) draws, low scoring, unmanly.

        When one of them becomes passe, they move on to the next one ad nauseam.

        And yes they don’t care when the same things happen in their preferred sports.

        • June 19th 2018 @ 7:53pm
          chris said | June 19th 2018 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

          …and yet “authors” like Sean feel the need to comment on something they don’t really like. It’s usually AFL fans and I’ve met a few while here in Kazan. Thank goodness they haven’t been wearing those cringe worthy sleveless shirts.

    • June 19th 2018 @ 10:05am
      MQ said | June 19th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      The world cup has become an ad hoc united nations meeting, where the world’s great unwashed and drunkards gather en masse for a good time.

      The absence of alcohol in Qatar, and most probably smaller crowds, makes Qatar in 2022 the must see world cup of the century.

      By that time, all of my kids should be off my hands (although in this day and age, that can’t be guaranteed), so it will be a perfect storm. That’s the one I’m going to attend, God willing.

      • Roar Guru

        June 19th 2018 @ 10:38am
        AdelaideDocker said | June 19th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        “It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you (except to take it on the day of collection from the warehouse to you to home).”

        That’s from the UK foreign department’s website. I’d have to imagine that Qatar would license some stadiums and most hotels for the influx of visitors in 2022.

        On the topic of attending it, though: I’m with you. Tokyo 2020 and Qatar 2022 are what I wanna attend in the coming years. Let’s see how that works out.

        • June 19th 2018 @ 11:04am
          MQ said | June 19th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

          let’s catch up for a coffee in four years time

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