It’s the world’s game, but for the next month, I’m going to be tuning in nonstop, too.
The 2014 World Cup begins next week, and 32 countries will battle to be crowned champions of the world for the next four years. As has been the case in each of the World Cups I’ve been old enough to pay attention to, the United States has qualified, and interest in U.S. soccer has ramped up big time in the past year or so.
I love taking pride in my country, just like I do during each Olympics, but to me, the World Cup is great because every game, from U.S. vs. Germany to England vs. Italy to Croatia vs. Cameroon, is worth watching. In all these games, there will be something unique because the rest of the planet is absolutely crazy about soccer.
Whereas in the Olympics, certain countries care about figure skating while others are paying more attention to cross-country skiing, everybody is fixated on soccer and every single result that comes out of the tournament.
Any country with a rooting stake in the World Cup will pull out all the stops. Take, for example, the story of a witch doctor from Ghana, whose name means “Devil of Wednesday,” claiming to be behind Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo’s leg injury. The doctor said he’s afflicting Ronaldo to keep him out for Ghana’s match with Portugal to help his side win. You can’t make this stuff up.
I know and understand most of America’s complaints about soccer (even if I don’t agree with all of them). A 0-0 draw is a boring result, and it happens in soccer too often. But when it’s time of the World Cup, throw all those concerns about the kind of game you’ll be getting out the window.
Even when Brazil likely is crushing Cameroon during their group stage match, the Indomitable Lions (yes, that is the Cameroon team’s nickname) will have some moments when they break out and threaten to score, and the home Brazilian crowd will hold their breath even though they’re ahead by four goals.
Because every moment at the World Cup is thrilling. For men playing for a country like Cameroon or Algeria or Ecuador, it could be the only chance they get, needing to stay healthy and qualify four years later. That brings the stakes to an entirely different level and helps make the World Cup a peerless event in sports.
Let’s get it going. I can’t wait.
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.