It feels like only yesterday when flags of Germany, Brazil, France, Italy, Argentina etc practically littered the façade of concrete buildings in Lebanon and flew at full mast on cars and motorbikes. World Cup fever is back and back with a vengeance.
The FIFA World Cup Championship has moved into every house, coffee shop, restaurant, barbershop, garage, even in the roads and public areas of cities. Many take their leave from work just to watch a team they support as is evident from flags adorning every balcony. Many act royal more than the king himself.
As with everything they do, the Lebanese are passionate about football but only World Cup games. Not only do they adorn the flags with utmost patriotism but they defend the teams they support with such fervor and zeal that one would think a member of the team is their distant cousin. Names like Messi of Argentina, Brazil’s Kaká, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo to mention just a few, have become household names dear to the heart of many. Sadly, the recent injury of Germany’s Michael Ballack has caused a lot of tension for German team supporters. It is like losing a dear friend. With the countdown ticking, tensions and flags are swelling and it’s just as interesting to watch Lebanese supporters as it is to watch the game itself.
In the past, tears, blood, and sweat have been shed during this sports event. Divorce cases have been ﬁled during the tournament due to loss of control, some ended up in jail while others in hospitals.
Many have started betting on their favorite team. Soccer analytics and professional players have had their speculations for the upcoming championship. Some are naming Spain and Argentina as favors of winning the championship, but still Brazil, Italy and Germany remain big attractions in each and every World Cup game.
For those who do not know the tournament, the championship starts with a ﬁrst round involving eight teams competing to collect the necessary points to move on to the next round which in turn involves 16 teams. The knock-out stages lead the wining teams to the qualification for the quarter finals. After this stage, the losing team leaves the game and the last two winning teams will compete for the cup in the final game. This of course is the most exciting part of the championship where tensions reach fever pitch and the winners are crowned champions of the football dynasty retaining the cup for the next four years.
The sports event has graduated the best of soccer players in the world, some of them are still known and others have disappeared immediately after that. Players like Maradona, Pele, Rossi, Platini, Cruyff and others are still in the memories of those who are passionate about the green ﬁeld.
Unfortunately, when recalling great feats by the likes of Pele – who by the way is the highest goal scorer in the world until today – there are some tragic tales that still haunt many who love the game. The worst tragedy was that of Colombian player Andrés Escobar who in the 1994 World Cup games mistakenly scored a goal against his own team. The image of him on the ground crying not believing what happened was not enough to quell the anger of some football fanatics who murdered him upon arrival to Columbia.
This year’s FIFA World Cup has a special flavor. For the first time since the game started it is being hosted in an African nation. South Africa has been preparing intensively for the past four years for the 19th FIFA cup. During the previous 18 tournaments, the championship was rotated between seven nations Brazil (never missed a world cup competition), Italy, Germany, Argentina, France, England and Uruguay. Each of these hosting countries has won the cup. Brazil tops the list with 5 World Cup wins, Italy four times, Germany three, Uruguay and Argentina each twice with France and England with one title each.
FIFA WORLD CUP 2010
The FIFA World Cup, arguably the second biggest sports event in the world after the Olympic games, although some soccer fanatics believe it is the number one sports event in the world – is ready to go. The renowned soccer tournament began in 1930 in Uruguay, since then the championship has been awarded every four years with exceptions of the years 1942 and 1946 when it was not contested due to the political turmoil of the destructive World War II.
The championship is rotated between continents, with 32 teams from all over the world competing for one month to receive the most prestigious award on the planet. The ﬁrst version of the cup was called Joul Rimets Trophy after the late President of the FIFA. After Brazil won its third cup in 1970, the new trophy became known as the FIFA World Cup Trophy.
The new trophy is solid gold (18 carat) 36cm high and weighs 6.175 kg. The base contains two layers of semi-precious malachite stone while the bottom end of the trophy is engraved with the name and year of each FIFA World Cup winner since 1974.