Road to Brazil: FIFA World Cup 2014

Friday, 13 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dr. Sulakshi Thelikorala ( Four years have passed by and once again the beauty of football is all set to mesmerise the international sporting arena with awe-inspiring performances, great sportsmanship, honour of defeat and glory of victory. This June, 32 football giants across the world will battle for the 20th FIFA World Cup as the football fever embraces the whole wide world. Football is not just a game. It is honour. It is glamour. It is glory. Moreover, there is, colour, passion and celebration everywhere it follows. It is a sport with values; a road to success and a lively beautiful subculture. Gathering the momentum and vivid celebrations from FIFA South Africa 2010, this time football takes an astounding journey to a culture, a land, and a community where football is loved, cherished and celebrated to its best. It is non-other than Brazil. "Soccer is the fastest growing, most popular sport in the world. FIFA World Cup Trophy is the largest sports event after Olympics and the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world. This has become the most anticipated and viewed sporting event across the globe." Football adds colour to Brazil and vice versa, Brazil adds colour to football. The 20th FIFA World Cup becomes memorable as this will be the second time Brazil would host the tournament since 1950. After 64 years of painstaking victories and building legends, Brazil has once again won the golden opportunity to showcase their talent and share the beauty of culture and celebration with the rest of the world. Furthermore, Latin America and Soccer too have a powerful and a passionate relationship. Latin America has given birth to Legends of Football andBrazil, Argentina have been favourites in the game of football for many decades. Thus, FIFA 2014 becomes memorable as this is the first time the tournament will be staged in South America since 1978 in Argentina, and the fifth time overall. The 20th FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be held from 12 June to 13 July 2014 in 12 venues in 12 different cities in Brazil. Soccer is the fastest growing, most popular sport in the world. FIFA World Cup Trophy is the largest sports event after Olympics and the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world. This has become the most anticipated and viewed sporting event across the globe. The final match of the 2006 FIFA World Cupheld in Germany was viewed by an estimated 715.1 million peopleand the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa was broadcasted to 204 countries on 245 different channels. It is also estimated that a total of 3,170,856 spectators attended the 64 matches with an average of 49,670 per match and the third highest aggregate attendance behind the 15th FIFA World Cup held in USA in 1994 and the 18th FIFA World Cup held in Germany in 2006. The origin of football dates far back in time, very long before football proper originated. Even though the sport was not refined as football today, similar sort of sport was found in various civilisations such as the Greek and Roman Civilisations as well as the Chinese in ancient times. In Greek and Roman Civilisations a similar sport was used to sharpen warriors for battle. Moreover, a similar sport was found amongst the Chinese known as ‘cuju’, the Japanese as ‘Kemari’ and the South Americans as ‘Tia chi’, almost 3000 years ago. The contemporary history of football spans more than 100 years, which originated in the context of English Public Schools. It has been initially limited to England which has later expanded to Europe. Spread of football outside Europe has occurred solely with colonisation by the imperial powers in the oriental nations. First ever international football match was held almost 142 years ago The first ever international football match has been held almost 142 years ago. It was held between England and Scotland in Glasgow in 1872. Football was recognised in Summer Olympics with the dawn of the 20th century. At the Summer Olympics held in 1900 and 1904 football matches were celebrated but no medals were awarded. During the 1908 London Summer Olympics, football became an official sport where theGreat Britain won the first Olympic gold medal, yet it initially remained only for amateurs. Since the Olympics opened doorways only for amateurs, Sir Thomas Lipton organised ‘Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy’ in Italy in 1909 which is sometimes known as the first Football World Cup. This tournament was a championship trophy between individual clubs from different nations with each team representing its country. Professional players took part in the tournament representing Italy, Switzerland and Germany but England has refused to participate. However, Sir Lipton invited amateur teams in addition where the West Auckland team won the tournament. Since this tournament involved teams across the globe, this competition was sometimes described as the first Football World Cup. The special feature of Sir Thomas Lipton is that he was the creator of the Lipton tea brand who visited Sri Lanka in 1890s and made business with James Taylor who introduced tea to Sri Lanka. The Football Association in England is the first governing body of football which was formed when the English rugby and football associations branched off on their different courses. However, in 1904 the ‘Federation Internationale de Football Association’ (FIFA) was found in Paris in order to establish an international body as well as to develop and promote soccer around the world. In 1928, FIFA decided at a meeting in Amsterdam to host its own World Cup Tournament extending opportunities for more nations to participate. Thus, the inaugural World Cup tournament was held in Uruguay with participation of 13 teams. The host nation Uruguay defeated Argentina by 4 to 2 in Montevideo, becoming the first nation to win a FIFA World Cup Tournament. Qualification to the grand tournament itself is a victory Qualification to the grand tournament itself is a victory by all means. The strength of football and the size of the continent have become decisive factors in allocating the number of teams from each confederation. Over the years, the number of teams qualifying for the World Cup has expanded to 32 countries enabling more teams at the door way to qualify from confederations of Africa, Asia and North America. Currently 31 nations strive to qualify for the World Cup Tournament amongst the 208 FIFA member states whilst the host nation is privileged to be exempted from the intra-confederation play. Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea have been selected to represent the Asian Confederation this year. So far in the history of the FIFA World Cup none of the Asian countries have managed to grab the victory. Another momentous feature of the FIFA World Cup is its exclusive trophy. The first trophy, originally named ‘Victory’ was later named after Jules Rimet, the first president of FIFA designed by Abel Lafleur, a French sculptor. The trophy was initially named as ‘Victory’ as it depicted Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Interestingly it had been made out of solid gold. After the third World Cup victory by Brazil in 1970, it was irreversibly presented to Brazil. Unfortunately the trophy was stolen in 1983 which was never found. In 1970 a new FIFA Trophy was designed by Silvio Gazzaniga made of solid 18 carets gold. It depicts two human figures holding up the Earth.This new trophy is not permanently placed with the winning nation. World Cup winners retain the trophy till the next tournament and a gold plated replica will be awarded instead. Since 1930, 19 World Cup Tournaments were organised every four years but the tournaments could not be organised from 1938 to 1950 due to the Second World War. The 19 FIFA World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams. Six of the eight champions so far in the history of FIFA World Cup have won the title playing in their own homeland, the exception being Brazil who finished as runner up after losing the decisive match on home soil in 1950 and Spain with their 2010 World Cup victory. Brazilians have always been the spot light in soccer The Brazilians have always been the spot light in soccer as they have made unforgettable victories in the history of FIFA. Brazil has become the champion five times and runners up twice and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. Italy andGermany have become champions four times and three times each respectively. Argentina and Uruguay were champions just twice while France, Spain and England just once each. The 19th FIFA World Cup 2010 held in South Africa was Africa’s first FIFA World Cup which lives in our memories to this day. It was South Africa’s painstaking effort in making the celebrations worthwhile and colourful giving much hope to an entire continent. It is highly commended that South African football team did nothing to damage the spirit of the game even though they fell off in the first round as the host. Spain entered the record books as the eighth country to win the FIFA World Cup when Andres Iniesta scored his 116th-minute match winning goal turning down Netherlands hopes on football’s most prized trophy. The FIFA World Cup 2014 will undoubtedly bring you a blend of festival vibe with great sportsmanship and amazing performance this June. Moreover, Brazil has become one of the most talked of countries in the world today, not solely due to the countries reputation for classy football nor for hosting the event. A few days prior to the event, many queries have been made on Brazil’s capability to host the biggest sporting extravaganza in the world. Brazil is thought to be in an unprepared state for a world cup. Although the country isequipped with 12 grand venues in 12 different cities for the FIFA World Cup, more doubts have been raised on the availability of the above stadiums by the commencement of the tournament. It was in 2007 that Brazil was granted the right to host the 20th FIFA World Cup which coincided with the fruitful days of the Brazilian economy. Together with the leadership, the people celebrated the idea of reflecting Brazil as a powerful nation by show casing the FIFA World Cup at early stages. Nevertheless, today situations have changed. Today, the interest towards the FIFA World Cup amongst the Brazilians has dramatically reduced. Weeks prior to the biggest event of football, the streets of Brazil have seen many protests and demonstrations aimed at the upcoming World Cup Tournament. Many Brazilians feel that funds directed towards the world cup preparations should have been invested in transportation,education, healthcare and infrastructure.Thus, the only hope remaining for Brazil would be to battle and win the sixth World Cup title, once again in their home soil. 12 June; the day that the world’s football fans have been expectantly waiting for four years is finally here. The best sportsmanship and some amazing performances are due in the days to come as 32 nation’s battle for the 20th FIFA World Cup. The spirit of football has always mesmerised the Sri Lankan sports enthusiast. Undoubtedly the Sri Lankan football lover too would passionately embrace Pele’s ‘BeautifulGame’ and enjoy the FIFA World Cup 2014.