Dead Belgians Don’t Count – World Cup 2014

One of the many reasons to love the World Cup is its utter pointlessness, particularly at moments early on in the tournament. You can for example spend an otherwise quiet afternoon watching Nigeria play Boznia Herzegovia. With the possible exception of catastrophic global nuclear conflagration, war and pestilence in what other arena could you watch these two nations getting it on? And in what scenario could you care less about the outcome? Miss Universe perhaps? (does that still run?). Maybe the World’s Strongest Man? I don’t know.


For me this very lack of meaning is a thing to celebrate. It doesn’t matter but we care anyway. Because we understand that what matters more than the actual football is that the world has come together by consensus to play for a gold plated statue. No boycotts, no sanctions, no conditions, no one being mutilated, jailed or killed to fulfill someone else’s agenda. It’s a lesson to the world’s politicians. True power doesn’t come at the end of a gun, it comes with two teams, a pitch, a ball and a referee. One could say similar things about the Olympic Games but despite their admirable global reach there is something about football that reaches deeper into the soul than athletics, swimming or beach volleyball ever can.

Of course I should be focusing on the awful inequalities the people of Brazil are suffering. I could be flagging up the disgraceful corruption that lives at the heart of the game’s governing body FIFA, or remarking on the billions of dollars wasted by a nation that seems to care more about building state of the art football stadia than it does about curbing its child prostitution problem. But I won’t. Those things are of the realm of politicians and not the fault of the planet’s favourite game. Few people voiced concerns for the rank and file of Brazil before the tournament pitched up and few will bother once it’s finished. Sad but true, so who’re the real hypocrites here? In short, it’s not football’s fault.


If you don’t like sport, particularly football, then these four weeks must be pretty boring. Fair enough, but it seems to me that some people never miss an opportunity to blame our preoccupation with sport or entertainment for the world’s ills. They link these things in some kind of cause and effect loop; the world’s screwed because we’d rather play football. Everyone loves a soft target and what better than football, played as it is by overpaid morons.

The reality of course is that with just a moment’s thought it’s easy to see the true value of the World Cup. And those early round matches are far from pointless for the protagonists. National pride, if not the World Cup trophy itself, is on the line. Some teams will underachieve and some will punch above their weight. Unfortunately some team managers are destined to be pelted with rotten fruit when they return home with their squads a little earlier than expected. No one’s going to be hanged over it though and the world will congratulate and celebrate with the eventual winners.



As I type I see Algeria are beating Belgium, and to be honest, it all looks rather pointless. I suspect Belgium may well recover but oh dear, I shouldn’t really care. I do. That’s the beauty of it.


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