The 21st FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup is currently being held in Moscow, Russia. The tournament kicked off on 14 June 2018 and will end on 15 July 2018. The first FIFA World Cup football tournament for men was started in 1930 by Jules Rimet, a French football administrator, with the sole intention of uniting nations. The tournament took place in Uruguay from 13-30 July 1930, with only thirteen teams participating.
The FIFA World Cup happens every four years. However, prior to the World Cup tournament, there is a two-year qualification process, which involves over 200 teams from around the world. From this process, only the top 32 countries are selected for the World Cup tournament. This year, the host team (Russia) and the defending champion of 2014 (Germany) automatically qualified as is the norm. A total of 64 matches were played in 12 venues, located in 11 cities, in and around Moscow. There are altogether 736 players in 32 squads, at this year’s World Cup.
FIFA World Cup is the world’s most watched sport and it is estimated that 3.2 billion people have watched the tournament so far, this year. Among the many football tournaments such as European Football Championship, Africa Cup of Nations, COPA America, English Leagues, etc., I enjoy the World Cup the most. Every four years, when 32 countries from around the globe gather together for football’s biggest and grandest tournament, I try my best to watch most of the matches. Football is a most beautiful game and it is a sport almost everyone likes. During my primary school years, I played football for the school and the district. Through football, I learnt some of life’s most important lessons, such as discipline, hard work, commitment, courage, teamwork, struggle and endurance.
Many have asked me which team I support? Not one in particular, but I have my favourite teams such as Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina, Portugal, South Korea and Japan. However this year, almost all my favourite teams have lost in the early rounds, except for France which has qualified for the finals. I felt a little upset as my teams were knocked out one by one, and surprisingly, the underdogs performed better.
Two Asian countries – Japan and Korea, played well, but unfortunately failed to advance to the quarter final stage. Japan has risen up the FIFA world rankings since 1993, and they have qualified for the last six World Cup tournaments. Korea however, is the most successful football team in Asia, and they have participated in 10 consecutive World Cup tournaments. This year, Japan played extremely well, until they were knocked out by Belgium in the Round of 16. I certainly hope that one day, they will win the World Cup.
We have now come to the finals of the World Cup 2018, with France and Croatia all set to battle it out for football’s highest honour. The world waits anxiously for Sunday, 15 July 2018. France has made it to the finals for the third time in history after a 1-0 victory over Belgium in the semi finals. Croatia, on the other hand, are in the finals for the first time ever, after upsetting England 2-1 in the semi finals, going into extra-time. So let’s wait and watch, the finals of the FIFA World Cup 2018 – FRANCE vs CROATIA – May the better team win!!!
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy