Vox Parva: Neutrality of a football match


Benedict Keith Ip

Football fever has been spreading across the world.
This time, being held in Brazil – the football kingdom – the World Cup was seized by Germany last Sunday, defeating Argentina in extra time, and becoming the first European country to win this glorious trophy in South America. Well, to be honest, my preference would have been Argentina or France. Both were defeated perfectly by Germany. It was also unfortunate that I got a cold before the World Cup final and was absent during the championship moment. But anyway, I knew what the result was by receiving a text message from a football fan.
What is the purpose of playing football?
We may get thousands of answers: seeking fun; training your body; defeating your opponents; socialization; championship; glory, etc. Nevertheless, the original motive should be a matter of interest. Of course, the football industry is a giant and all world cup players are somehow professionals. They are making money from taking to the field, some are making a fortune, and a lot of players in Brazil rely on the football managers to change their fate.
There are even other interests beyond football. Taiwan has claimed the championship because the majority of national teams are dressing in jerseys that they made; China also claimed the championship because products “made in China” have conquered the whole of Brazil, from X-ray security machines, to the chairs and also the workers. However, to me, it does not make sense if you solely treat football as a profession, rather than a game to enjoy. You don’t necessarily have to dislike your profession.
Football culture is admirable, and it has the potential to overcome divisive elements such as class, race, religion, age and so forth. On July 1, MDT published an interview with the founder of an indoor futsal complex – Sun Soccer Sports Stadium – Miguel Sou Chan U, along with his partners Eugenio Ernesto De Assis and Joseph Un. He said, “they (the stadium) have attracted people from outside their target customer groups.” They attracted not only “those who were born in the 1980s,” but also “junior high school students, as well as some retired people,” support which is beyond their expectations. Veteran TVB sport reporter Ng Fong Wing (1940-2008) had a saying, “The football is round,” meaning that everything could happen in a match and go beyond any predictions. These young entrepreneurs simply prove Ng’s theorem in their business.
In late June, the Argentinian pope Francis received a jersey of his home country during the general audience at St. Peter’s Square. Having renewed his Argentinian passport, and being a member of the Buenos Aires Football Club, the pope told us in public, with a sense of humor, that he will stay neutral in terms of prayer intentions.
We always wish for something in prayer, but we do not believe in God, and here we can pick up an example. Again, in early June, Pope Francis tweeted a prayer intention, “I wish everyone a wonderful World Cup, played in a spirit of true fraternity.” The fact is that we still come across as involved in a lot of unfairness. We saw players who behaved very badly – some were using force, even biting their opponents; some players tried to deceive the referees by acting; some players are even under clouds of corruption scandals. All these events seem to go beyond the wish of the Pope.
“May the best player win”: this was quoted from an anonymous photo depicting two popes thinking about their own country in the World Cup final. Pope Francis was correct when he said “sport, particularly soccer, is able to bring opposing sides together in a way politics cannot. The World Cup, he said, is an opportunity to strengthen and appreciate this reality.”

Categories Opinion