July 23, 2018
Another World Cup has come and gone, with France winning the championship.
The World Cup is a special event and I become a soccer fan every four years when the World Cup is played. There were some surprises, most notably Germany not getting out of its own division. Argentina also struggled, but Croatia and England were feel-good stories. I pulled for England when they advanced, but Croatia beat them in overtime in the semi-finals. With France winning their semi-final, I was hoping to see an England-France final – the Battle of the English Channel and bringing back memories of Napoleon.
France has a young squad and their nineteen-year old star, Mbappe, has the potential to be the best player in the world in the next few years. It’s easy to say they can win a couple of more cups, but it’s four and eight years away, respectively, for the next two World Cups: 2022 in Qatar and 2026 in North America. A lot can happen.
There is intense play throughout the Cup, but there were a few things I didn’t like.
The thing that bothered me the most was all the acting and diving in the games to draw fouls. I’ve seen it before, but not as much as I’ve seen in these games. One of the biggest offenders was Neymar, Brazil’s star. Guys would barely be touched and they’d fall down as if they were shot.
Another thing that annoyed me was when announcers would say something that didn’t happen over long period of time when the Cup is played every four years. For example, I heard a studio announcer comment that Sweden had not made the Round of 16 in in twelve years. That sounds like a long time, but they only missed two Cups: 2010 and 2014.
There was disappointment for many when the United States did not qualify for the World Cup after participating in each of the last seven. But I was not fazed by it and enjoyed this Cup as much as any of them.
When it comes to soccer in this country, I do not think it will ever enjoy the level of popularity of other sports. If I had to choose one reason, it is the lack of offense. There are many 1-0 and 2-1 scores, something Americans do not like; they like offense and scoring. If there is a sport that is popular in other countries that has a chance to be more successful, it’s rugby.
Rugby has similarities to football, a lot more than the other three major sports. I am not criticizing soccer and I will continue to watch the World Cup. But rugby, to me, has more of what an American audience would prefer.