The world came to a standstill on November 20, 2022 as the FIFA World Cup 2022 began in celebration of life, passion and entertainment. A time to say adieu for the aged footballers and an opportunity for a star to shine, as the curtain opens to the world to witness some of the world's greatest soccer players of our time. Often a moment of celebration would soon dash into despair with the supporting team losing the match; but soon one would reorient for a team of support in the spirit of sportsmanship to step up to the top of the pyramid. We have now reached the end part with the much-awaited grand Finale.
Qatar being the host of this year's World Cup 2022, it is the first World Cup to be hosted in the Arab world and Muslim world, and the second to be held in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan. In this World Cup, 32 teams (countries) participated and the 32 teams were divided into eight groups of four. One of FIFA’s justifications for awarding Qatar the hosting rights was the ability to take the tournament to a new part of the world.
Latin American countries and European countries are considered as the powerhouse of football in the global arena. Latin America is home to more than 425 millionCatholics- nearly 40% of the world’s total catholic population. Roman Catholicism is the major religion of nearly every country in Latin America. Countries like Argentina, Brazil, Mexicoand Columbia are almost fully Catholic countries. Likewise in Europe, Catholic countries like Poland, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Croatia are popular footballing nations. We see many of the players from Latin American and European countries making “SIGN OF THE CROSS” before the start and end of the match. More of them are seen when the players score a goal as a mark to acknowledge the blessings of the Almighty.
The making of the “SIGN OF THE CROSS” has become the showcase of one’s faith and belief, and it also shows gratefulness and gratitude to God. We see the undisputed stars like Messi and Ronaldo doing the same and making it a trademark style or signature style after scoring goals.
Such making “SIGN OF THE CROSS” is rare only to Catholics and that signifies the player is also a Catholic. This unites the feeling of being Catholic and brings the feeling of oneness even though we don’t know each other. Faith unites and a fragrance of religiosity is spread across different parts of the world. The spirit of oneness, unity and Universalism of Catholicism is shown in the playing field as well.
Values represent the outward manifestation of character. Our values are perceivable for others and through them so is our character. Values define interests that define attitudes which are consequential in forming good character in a person.
Countries like Japan have never failed to impress the world with their unique values that are deeply ingrained in their social character. It is said that in Japan, some of the core values are thinking of others, doing your best, not giving up, respecting your elders, knowing your role, and working in a group. These concepts are taught implicitly and explicitly from nursery school into the working world. These values have been showcased by the Japanese football team as well as the fans during this worldcup. The news and photos that went viral on social media won hearts globally. Japan players cleaned their locker room and left it spick-and-span.
“Domino Arigato (Thank You so Much)”, FIFA said while sharing photos of the Japan locker room. FIFA also acknowledged the gesture of the Japan fans inside the Khalifa stadium after collecting trash from the stand. Twitter users were seen praising “…Just so much admiration for their commitment to cleanliness”.
Another wrote “When it comes to manners and work ethics no country can beat Japan”.
One tweet from a Japanese fan says, “We are Japanese, and we do not leave rubbish behind, and we respect the place.” Not to forget in the 2018 World Cup, the Japanese fans tidied up the stands in Russia after their match even after their heart-breaking loss to Belgium at the knockout stages. True value and character never fade even in the darkest and roughest phase of life.
There is so much to take away as a “Take Away Gift “from the World Cup. The showcase of Faith and Values has been awesome and impactful. No doubt there was also some rubbing of shoulders, display of aggression and bad mouthing against the referee. However, we take the good things ahead and also undo the bad happenings. Let us learn to adapt and adopt change. We learn, unlearn and relearn to make ourselves relevant in society today.
Let us showcase our Faith and Values in the true spirit of sportsmanship that we too can be a transforming agent of change for others like we see in this World Cup 2022. As we head for the grand finale of Argentina and France, let the best among the two be the winner and the loser accept the defeat gracefully.
(The views expressed are personal)