Do you know what world-famous sporting event I look forward to every four years? The Olympics. Do you know what world-famous sporting event holds me over on the other even-numbered years? That’s right: The Winter Olympics. And the FIFA World Cup.
I tease, of course. I love the World Cup and all of the preparation and buildup that goes into it. But I love it in the same way I love a wild animal: Beautiful, wild, but also something to be wary of. If the protest in Brazil is anything to go by, this Cup will cause a lot of grief for a lot of people. However, I know that it will happen regardless. In spite of myself, I cannot help but begin the process of selecting my favorites.
I’m excited for the Brazilian team. I don’t necessarily want them to win, but given the amount of pressure on them to acquit themselves well on home soil, I wouldn’t necessarily begrudge them a win if they earned it. Losing while having the home team advantage can be especially crushing.
I’m also going to support the Spanish team, if only because I’m a fair-weather fan and I know a strong side when I see one. The returning champions, La Roja, have been a consistently good team for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been following football for years now. If I were practical and could suggest a team to break the “South American team always wins South American-based World Cup” streak, it’d be them.
Still, the German team has consistently been my sentimental pick my whole life. I could not really articulate why, if asked. Technically, I’m only somewhat German by blood. But it’s the only part of my heritage with which I identify, so I like to think that I am in some way rooting for my home team. It also helps that the German team has been consistently good, if not the best, at the last few World Cups.
I cannot bring myself to throw my support entirely behind one team, though I will be extremely annoyed if certain teams manage to advance. If I spread my support around multiple teams, I feel that I’m more likely to see a favorite in the World Cup final. I had that pleasure during the last World Cup. I watched Spain perform well during the matches, and they were my pick going into the final round. My decision may have been slightly influenced by Paul the Octopus.
Finally, I’ve been monitoring the social situation in Brazil as best I’ve been able to. I am not naïve enough to believe that this is the first time a country has put on a World Cup in spite of hugely justified protests from its citizens. The Brazilian people have been coming out in legions to protest the use of public funds to build expensive stadiums. If stadiums that are still standing from previous Olympics and World Cups are anything to go by, the structures are not only exorbitant to build, but will be useless by the end of the year.
As of this writing, the World Cup is only a few days away. I am excited and I will watch it, even if I’m not sure yet who I will end up supporting. May we all have a good time, may the proceedings be unblemished by cheating and scandals, and may our ears be punished by as few vuvuzelas as possible. And may the best team win!