In recognition of this weekend’s final World Cup games, here are some thoughts from Allen Yeh on “How Soccer Explains the World”:
- Sport can be the greatest unifier. Everyone loves football, whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female. It cuts through social stratifications.
- Sport can be the greatest divider. Ugly nationalism can also rear its head.
- Sport elicits the highest allegiance in many countries. If you think that the greatest sports rivalries are Yankees-Red Sox, or Lakers-Celtics, nothing will prepare you for European and Latin American football (Brazil vs. Argentina is almost as intense as you can get).
Allen only got Spain right in his predictions for the final four, but read his piece before Sunday’s final nonetheless.
UPDATE: Vanity Fair has eight photos of the beautiful game across Europe from Dutch photographer Hans van der Meer: