Ever since the age of three, I have been passionate about soccer. I have been fascinated with both playing the sport as well as watching it. I began to start playing at the age three and still continue to play, although now not formally. At a young age, I became aware of other countries, through the means of soccer. It began with me watching the Mexico national team play against other teams in friendlies and tournaments, such as the World Cup. Whenever Mexico played against another nation, I would research that nation, with the purpose of learning the aspects of location, national flag, language spoken, etc. of a country. When I was younger, being the big soccer fan that I was, I always thought it was important for me to have knowledge of soccer around the world, not just of North America. Through my admiration for the sport, I came to realize the significance the sport held to the world, specific countries, and me as an individual.
Since I was born, there have been four World Cups that have been played. Through the World Cup event, I have had the opportunity to witness different cultures. As a result of the World Cup being held in various countries, the cultures of many countries have been exposed to tourists and others through the media. The World Cup is played every four years, and every four years different countries host World’s biggest sporting event. Throughout history, there have been a couple modifications in terms of who participates, but today 32 nations take part in the competition. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing system for soccer that is responsible for the politics of soccer, which plays an enormous role in terms of the World Cup. Before a World Cup event takes place, the congress of FIFA must get together and nominate the country in which the World Cup will take place. This is often times referred to as the bidding process. During the nomination process, FIFA’s congress has to ensure that the countries nominated fulfill specific requirements, such as economic stability, number of stadium available, etc. The countries are chosen with a lot of time in advance, so FIFA has time to build stadiums and rebuild cities in the country chosen to accommodate the mass soccer community that will be touring. For instance, FIFA has already determined the locations for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup events, which will take place in Russia and Qatar.
Although it may not be reflected in the United States, soccer is the World’s most popular sport. During the bidding process, it seems that every country wants to host the World’s most popular sporting event. There are many reasons for that, some revolving around culture, economics, or country’s passion for the sport. When a nation’s team participates in an international tournament, especially in the World Cup, essentially everyone of the country is actively watching and supporting their country as they compete against others. Whenever a team wins the tournament, upon returning to their country, they are welcomed back with massive celebrations. Some may say it serves as a brag right, and through it, everyone feels a part of the team’s accomplishment. In the World of Soccer, every country wants to demonstrate that they are the best in soccer. This is reflected through national teams, as well as leagues within the country. When I was younger, I became interested in watching soccer from foreign leagues. I grew passionate about a lot of club teams outside the US and Mexico because I realized that soccer was played differently in other places. It is not the rules and objective that are different, rather the tactics and such. To one who is not a very passionate fan of soccer, one might believe that soccer is the same everywhere, but it is actually not. The pace and flow of the game are different, a different game plan of strategies are used, etc. When two different national teams play against each other, different playing styles are witnessed, usually the teams playing through what may be called advantages. For example, a national team such as Ghana may playing using the strength of their players while a team like Japan may focus their tactics around the speed of their players. As a fan of soccer, it is interesting to see how soccer is interpreted by different countries.
As I stated earlier, I became a fan of national teams and club teams outside North America at a young age. I have done a lot of research and have watched a lot of different matches internationally, but I have become very interested in soccer of: England, Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Germany among others. In every one of those country’s leagues, I have had a team that I follow and have learned a lot from. Every team has taught me something different and has shown me important aspects of the sport. When I first began watching soccer, I primarily focused on the Mexican soccer league because that is what my father watched and it was the league of our country. I have a strong connection with the soccer in Mexico and always make the effort to stay updated with it and watch as many games as possible, as it has improved very much. I was never a fan of the United States Major League Soccer (MLS) because I did not feel the league was well organized and the teams were not competitive enough. When I played soccer, I wanted to emulate and adapt the styles of soccer from these various countries into my own gameplay. I became interested in other teams through seeing the different game styles that I saw during international matches and admiration of several foreign players.
After having taken this course, I have come to realize that there are a lot of similarities between soccer and World Heritage. Similar to every country wanting to be the host country to FIFA’s World Cup, a lot of countries want their sites to be recognized by the World Heritage Committee. With the nomination of a site, or country for the World Cup, tourism is highly promoted. In both cases, it allows nations, and it citizens, to account for economic profit from tourists. In addition, through both the World Cup and World Heritage, communities of a nation have the opportunity to educate the rest of the world on their culture. To add on to the similarities, a nation can hold symbolic capital, or bragging rights, through their sites and monuments as well as accomplishments in the world of soccer or having hosted a World Cup. International tournaments in which different nations take part in are very competitive and difficult. There are various soccer events that take place in which a lot of different countries participate, but the most popular is the World Cup because it involves teams from all continents. The World Cup has been in existence ever since 1930, where Uruguay was the host country and also won the tournament, and the now the next upcoming event will take place in Brazil 2014, with Brazil being the nation who has won the most World Cups (5). There are so many countries in the world that not all of them have had the opportunity to be the host country for the World Cup. In fact one country that has been fortunate in being the host country for two World Cups (1970 and 1986) is Mexico. Mexico is the only country who has had a stadium be the location for two World Cup final event matches (Estadio Azteca). Just as not every country has had the chance to be host to the sporting event, only a few nations have even been awarded the championship during the event, including: Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, England, France, and Spain. Through my passion and admiration for soccer, I have learned a lot about other cultures, countries, the politics of soccer, significance of the sport to different countries and the world as a whole.