One of the most beautiful features of the June-July 2014 World Cup is its planetary inclusiveness. It is globalization before Globalization; globalization without violence. It is a quarterly reminder we are members of a human family participating in a planetary phenomenon greater than the human eyeballs watching and human ears hearing.
World Cup matches have differences resolved at the blast of a referee’s whistle with a supporting cast of decision makers in FIFA, behind the scenes, appealing to the greater good of the game both for the benefit of the game’s ethics and their global corporate allies for whom the Cup has become a window to market consumer products.
FIFA has successfully made the World Cup a big business; this explains its urgency to punish Luis Suarez of Uruguay for biting the Italian defender Chiellini. FIFA’s corporate allies disapproved of Suarez’s spontaneous cannibalism (smile!) so FIFA also disapproved and quickly. For soccer aficionados this new love affair with global corporate powers is like daddy having a second wife and a new family, aficionados are no longer as important as once they were; they have to share the house of soccer with more economically powerful newcomers and new markets. They want eyeballs, we want soccer.
During this World Cup the globe is vomiting its present day political realities. By this I mean the parade of players and teams from now politically independent nation-states that were previously colonized peoples under the yoke of western and eastern European colonial domination. Now free they are playing the planetary game against each other and against former colonial powers. We have the spectacle of teams from countries that are not having an easy time of it, playing in the World Cup and giving their peoples a sense of hope that better than suffering is possible (Iran; Algeria).
Further, we have the physical evidence of modern human migration from the colonies to the metropole; from the south to the north. I am writing about surnames that are not traditional to certain teams in the World Cup. The Switzerland team has several players whose surnames provoke a “WHAT!” Take a look at these surnames: Behrami, Djourou, Rodriguez, Fernandes, Mehmedi, Shaqiri, Dzemaili. These names are not traditional Swiss surnames which are more like Lichtsteiner, Benaglio, Schar, and Senderos.
These unusual Swiss surnames are of a new Switzerland (do not tell that to the Swiss). They are existing in a country that has made a public case against “foreigners” and “illegal migrants” and “Muslim veil wearing migrants” and “too many Africans’’ and “too many unskilled immigrants” and “too many people in our country who do not want to follow our cultural ways.” One can but hope entry into the World Cup and play against the likes of Argentina (to whom they lost 1-0) might make a positive difference in the Swiss journey on the road of human tolerance.
The World Cup has vomited evidence of the reordering of the post-Second World War geopolitical map of nations. We are witnesses to an independent Croatia and Bosnia on the world stage when, historically, both were members of the unified nation of Yugoslavia, which no longer exists; further, we have Russia and not the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which also no longer exists.