The FIFA World Cup in Brazil will get under way on June 12th in the largest “city proper” south of the Equator, São Paulo, Brazil. The match will feature host nation Brazil (competing in their 20th World Cup) and Croatia (competing in their 4th). Those numbers mean something to a fan of soccer, but to the uninitiated, they may seem trivial. To put them in perspective, there have only ever been 20 World Cups…ever, and Brazil has competed in every single one of them.
The World Cup started in 1930 and that tournament saw the U.S. team compete and place third overall. That remains the farthest the U.S. team has ever advanced in the tournament, and is a reminder that soccer has been around in America for a long time. The World Cup wasn’t played in ’42 and ’46 due to the global instability caused by WWII, so out of the possible 22 iterations, the world has only had the chance to witness 20 of these awe-inspiring tournaments.
Let’s put that number in a different light. If you were born in say, August 1970, and you live to be 80, you will only have the chance to bear witness to the World Cup 20 times in your entire life. There aren’t many sporting events for which the same can be said, and the rarity of the experience is only one of the reasons you should give it a chance, if you aren’t already a fan of the “beautiful game”.
In the lead up, you will hear more and more about the World Cup as the world’s eyes turn to Brazil and one of the greatest spectacles of sport, and if you give it half-a-chance, you might feel the patriotic pull of passion that has swelled the ranks of soccer fans across this great nation. The United States dominates the sports world and racks up medals at the Olympics. We invented sports that are popular around the globe. Our superstars are the world’s superstars, but we’ve never lifted the World Cup. Who knows…this year might be the year.
You can check out Part 2 here.