Football: The World’s Most Popular Sport

300px-Football_iu_1996But what, really, is the secret behind football? Why is it so very popular? Sports blogger Doug Sibor argues that it is not the money or the superstars, the hype or the seasons that make this game hold it all together: it’s its elegant simplicity.

A 90-Minute Amnesty

When there’s an important football match in the world or when a country is a host to a World Cup tournament that brings millions of people under the spell of a game, traditional adversaries forget their political differences, their biases and their hostilities, and they’ll share a beer and a table as they watch a match that matters to both of them. They’ll even kiss and hug when their team scores. And after the game’s 90 minutes are up, they’ll get back to being acrimonious and hateful to each other again.

Stars in the Bleachers

Top football at its ultimate best is about forging heroes both on and off the field, and important political figures and icons of popular culture, from Germany’s Angela Merkel to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, with lots of important characters in between, have been known to be ardent fans of the game, and thus instrumental in forging ties and building bridges between cultures and their own fans.

You Can Do it Anywhere

And if you think about it, that notion that a simple elegant game can reach smoothly from the dusty street of a poor rural village in Nigeria that operates as a football field, to the robust and verdant stadiums of central London, without materially changing its identity, has also to do with the basic nature of the tools you need to play a decent game: a smooth and flat terrain and a ball. All the expensive boots and specialised uniforms are just frills on the basic bottom line necessities of an impressive and timeless classic.

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