Call it maddening that one in the Philippines would stay up late at night or wake up early at dawn just to catch a game. But then it is not just a game. It is the most exciting sports event on the face of the earth – the FIFA World Cup. I go crazy myself. I may be insane, fanatic, OA or something but I think I am good.
Here’s the drama.
It happens only once every 4 years. Hindi nakakaumay. It does not come often. Talk about diamonds. Olympic Games do happen in 4 years too but there are just too many games therein. In World Cup, there is only that game. And while it is held indeed every 4 years, it is actually 3 years in the making. To qualify is uphill and narrowest. The waiting somehow makes it as the most exciting opera house in the galaxy.
Language is no barrier. The referee is the linguist of them all. Imagine, a referee from Senegal being confronted by players from France and Russia. What do you got then? How will the referee decipher the cacophonies of complains, not to mention the yelling cum “salivating”. But with a blow of a whistle and a hand signal, everybody stops literally and care to listen. Moreover, footballers do converse to each other. What language do they use? A German complains to Japanese. Polish yells at an Iranian. Swiss to Argentinian. Mexican to Tunisian. Etc. Do they actually understand each other?
Going back to the referee. How rigorous the training and strict the qualifications must be for this kind of arbiter. During the game, he practically outruns all players by a zillion miles. Comparatively, basketball game has only ten players in a small hardcourt but with three referees at that while the World Cup game has only a referee with 22 players inside a huge field. Furthermore, the referee is without substitution nor timeout at that. Plus, we could guess that the age of the referee could already be twice as those of the players.
Esprit de corps is best shown in football. With 11 on-field player per team, it is astonishing how footballers commit to one strategy to achieve a common goal. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, and worse, bad blood against teammates spawn not just failure but disaster to the team as well as to individuals, not excluding fans. Look at Argentina and Messi. They are supposed to be a formidable group but the way things are now they look sloppiest. Their entry into the next level was just pure luck. The team is full of talents but they are full of incongruences as well. Instead of fighting a team they virtually fight each other instead. And those in-the-know suspect that some teammates consider Messi as more of Barsa than Argentina.
And Russia? … Actually, the show is not just about the game, the host country is inside the proverbial aquarium too. The world watches what, how and who is Russia. Quite interestingly, before the opening, Russians were instructed to smile since visitors would be coming. Considerably, that could a tall order the stone-faced people.
Being a fan of World Cup necessarily makes one an “adik” of a particular club. I have a gut feeling that my team is no championship timber this time but who cares? Loyalty not novelty makes one a fan. Bandwagon is shallow and does not provide the complete thrill. I am sticking to my team come hell or high water. I shout “Viva!” and I do swear that my blood will always be color “roja”.
This and all for now. I have to rise and catch every game at length. Every moment counts. Every game is heart-pounding. I should not miss a bit for next fabulous fun will happen come 2022 yet.
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