I believe that football (soccer) is the greatest sport on Earth. I also believe that there is little contest to this argument, which has been in progress for centuries among a multitude of generations.
When you look at the audience of football, and those that participate in it, football is the only sport that every culture, country and citizen can both watch and play. All football requires is a ball and a few friends, no 100 dollar sneakers, no 80 dollar aluminum bat, and certainly no multi-million dollar sports complex. Third-world and developing countries can enjoy football, and often come together every four years to cheer their national team on. Even countries unknown to most, such as Ghana or Togo can make a run to the World Cup Final and bring pride to their country.
Football also helped me gain pride for my family’s native land, Italy. When Italy won the World Cup in 2006, something simply clicked in my head; that I should honor my family’s heritage, not just say ‘I’m Italian, so I know what’s good,’ when out to eat at Olive Garden. I remember watching the Final, cheered on the Italians, erupting with joy as Marco Materazzi headed in the equalizer of Zidane’s penalty, screaming for a red card as Zidane head-butted Materazzi in an off-ball incident, and finally screaming and jumping with pride as Pirlo, Materazzi, De Rossi, Del Piero and Grosso all connected on their shoot-out penalties. I remember this all from memory.
However, I fell out of the informational loop of football after the World Cup, simply due to not having access to it in the United States, as it is seemingly looked down upon and simply not a major sport. Even the United States’ own football league is lacking to all that bother to watch it, between players of collegiate caliber and clubs that win maybe a handful of matches in 3 years, there is simply nothing offered by the MLS. The league itself even denounces the name of the sport politically incorrect (Major League Soccer).
However, the universal love of football is not the issue to me. The issue that football completely destroys is that of racism. In club play and especially international play, players from every country in the world gather into their clubs, forgetting their beef with whatever race they may be teamed with, and simply go play football. There is no language greater than that of football, as can be seen by the passion in any football match. Even football’s multi-million dollar video game franchise has billboards in game saying “Say NO to Racism.” Truly, football is the battleground for all, where your skin color, nationality and language do not matter, only your dribbling, marking and stamina.
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