Can the World Cup and Soccer Unite the World?

Can the World Cup and Soccer Unite the World?

By JR Holguin

Over half the world’s population will tune in to watch the World Cup hosted by Qatar, the first time this tournament will be hosted in the Middle East, and as 32 nations come together, the question now is, does soccer bring the world together?

Firstly, soccer is the most-watched sport, with more than 3.5 billion followers worldwide. This appealing sport, also known as “football,” to the rest of the world, has amassed a sizable fan base because of its adrenaline-charged gameplay and quick-paced action.

There is no doubt that soccer is among the top sports out there, regardless of whether you are a dedicated fanatic or a casual viewer.

Despite FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, stating that soccer began in England in 1863, traces of its origin can be found in many parts of the world. There are references to Chinese soldiers playing Tsu’chu, or “kicking the ball,” as an addition to their training exercises during the Han Dynasty dating back to 206 B.C. At the same time, many other ancient societies also engaged in similar activities.

Furthermore, soccer teams comprise players from around the globe; some come from remote regions and play with top teams.

Here in the United States, immigrants are often stuck in the middle of what country they support. The land they migrated from or the one they migrated to. And one team that stands out from the rest of the world is Mexico. With allegiances to Mexico and the United States, it symbolizes drive, conflict, and much more.

León Krauze, the Univision News anchor, explains in an interview in the L.A. Times podcast that “the link to the home country, the link to Mexico, is still very much alive because of the proximity of the country.”

“Even if this country has given them everything, there’s an emotional link to what was left behind and to the family that was left behind that soccer provides,” Krauze resumes.

When the Mexican soccer team hits the pitch, those who immigrated from Mexico and the following generations who now live in the U.S. will sport the Mexico team jersey. But if the U.S. team is playing against anyone but Mexico, one can bet those same individuals will wear the U.S. jersey.

“I’m an optimist, and I think that there are many more things that unite us both countries, and I think that the Mexican American community is a pretty wonderful expression of that,” says Krauze. That expression can be said of the rest of the world during the World Cup. A search on social media with the trending tags of “Qatar” or “World Cup” will stack numerous videos of all kinds of nationalities having a great time side by side in the stadiums.

It is indisputable to say to its fans that soccer is more than just a sport. In that same interview, Krauze encourages everyone in North America, fan or not of the sport, to attend a World Cup game in 2026, when it will be hosted in Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

“It’s an unparalleled human experience to be in a world cup game where your team is playing; it gives you hope, not to get too lyrical, but it gives you hope that community is possible for humanity’s sake,” Krauze says.

Not to say that soccer, or football, will bring about world peace, but it might be a start.

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