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long as football exists and the best players get millions for chasing the ball, our world is a great place where dreams come true and decay is far away in another timeline. And this is not irony. Professional football has saved many talented people from poverty and danger and made the lives of even more people better and safer. It has connected people and cultures, shared the excitement, joy, and pressure of a high-stakes game, helped us identify with the heroic journeys of the best, craziest and luckiest players, and made us believe that we, too can achieve something and hit the bull’s eye at least once, if not twice… 

And it is not only people’s dreams that are triggered by professional football, but a football match is a dream of thousands of dreams of everyone who watches, plays, and participates. In a sense, a football match in a full stadium triggers mass hypnosis, and psychologists say that such a strong mass energy is then created that its power can move borders and manifest absolutely any common group intention. 

Like when England lost 4-1 to Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, because both linesman Mauricio Espinosa and referee Jorge Larrionda were blind and unfair. They disallowed Frank Lampard’s long-range shot that landed on the bottom edge of the crossbar, out of reach of Manuel Neuer, who couldn’t get the ball off the line because it was too far over, as the replay clearly showed. The crowd went crazy and you could feel the stadium shaking and trembling underfoot. It was as if a sudden high voltage entered the circle.

Nevertheless, Lampard’s goal was disallowed and after what should have been a 2-2 draw, England crashed out of the competition. At the following World Cup in Brazil, FIFA finally introduced goal-line technology, which had already been used for years in tennis, rugby, and cricket.

Stadium rock concerts have some of this atmosphere. Still, it’s not as organic and crowd-leading as a World Cup football match, which would be the closest experience to how Aristotle described the performance of a Greek tragedy where pregnant women suddenly went into labor or suffered seizures from the excitement of the play. At the same time, everyone else threw up, cried, screamed and had eureka moments. 

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a major milestone for world football

For me, born as a Yugoslav at the intersection of West and East and has traveled more in the West than in the East, it is illogical that people who understand and accept LGTBQ values cannot consider Muslim law and customs as equally queer and thus respect them while focusing on commonalities and shared human values. Have Westerners learned nothing from their genocidal and culturally hostile colonial history? 

Why do we have more tolerance for all kinds of modern sexual fetishes, except the ultimate fetish, the veiled woman who serves the fantasy of imagining herself naked underneath? The fact that the market for underwear is booming in Muslim countries says it all. Men are biologically aroused by the mere presence of a woman who cannot understand this because of her own biological conditioning and, therefore, consciously or unconsciously teases and manipulates men with it because attention feels nice and leads to more attention-seeking reactions. 

Of course, men wanted to protect their biological vulnerability, so some covered women completely with the burqa, while others thought it would be more profitable to make money from these biological realities. And then it’s not just about sexual preferences and lingerie fetishes, it’s also about beliefs. There can be no freedom if people are not free to believe what they want, including Muslim women who accept wearing the burqa. Every other freedom derives from the freedom of belief.

Like that time in the opening match of the 1978 World Cup between Brazil and Sweden, when the Welsh referee Clive Thomas stubbornly stuck to his incorrect timekeeping and, although he let Brazil take the corner kick and Zico actually scored, he did not blow the whistle until the ball was already in the air, deciding that exactly 15 seconds of stoppage time was more than enough. After the Brazilian 91st-minute goal was disallowed, FIFA sent Thomas home, still insisting on his belief that Zico had been “maybe only four-tenths of a second late, but late nonetheless.”

Now, what do you do with all this sexual energy if you do not want to live like the Book? Well, if you are born in the East, you pray, you meditate, you look at the moon, and if you are from the West, you play football and make friends, if not amoney while forgetting about the women who see how you feel but you do not understand what they are talking about and it is confusing to connect with them. 

And now Qatar wants some of that and is making a big and expensive gesture to welcome the crazy, rebellious, freedom-loving West with all its self-indulging customs. 

The Importance of Being Maradona

Diego Armando Maradona holding the World Cup (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It’s not just about football. The world wouldn’t be the same without the magic of the most popular, sincere, and enthusiastic player of all time, Diego Armando Maradona, who did for poor kids what the Ramones did for punk and garage bands. Nothing was the same when Maradona stepped onto the pitch, with an unparallel joy on his face and an eternal fire in his spirit, showing everyone how to play, how to live, and how to cheat with the help of God.

And again, it’s a moment when football evokes Europe’s colonial past in a diplomatic attempt to redress the balance between worlds. When Maradona brought England to their knees twice in just 300 seconds in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he didn’t forget to include the Falkland Islands’ absurdity in his brilliant moves that changed everything we thought possible. 

First, he scored a goal with his hand, knowing he was too small to catch the ball with his head, and neither the linesman nor the referee saw any of that magic except that the ball ended up in the goal. And then, to hit another jackpot and lift the spirits of the poor, he dug through five players and goalkeeper Peter Shilton to score the goal of the century. 

Maradona later explained that he had scored the first goal “a little bit with the head of Maradona and a little bit with the hand of God”. He also added that the goal for him was “symbolic revenge” for the UK’s victory over Argentina in the Falklands War four years earlier. It’s always good to shake that can of worms. Not only because it is Britain who should apologize for colonizing and destroying ancient cultures but also because England’s manager Alf Ramsay should apologize for calling Argentine players “animals” after Argentine captain Antonio Rattín was sent off against England in the 1966 World Cup. 

The English apology did not happen, of course, but Maradona was heavily condemned for being both human and a genius. In 2019, Maradona spoke out again about the case: 

‘I never spoke of forgiveness. I only said that history cannot be changed, that I do not have to apologize to anyone because it was a football match where there were 100,000 people in the Azteca Stadium, twenty-two players, two linesmen, and a referee. Shilton (the goalkeeper) is speaking now and he did not get it, the defenders had to tell him. So history is already written, nothing can change it. And that’s exactly what I said. I have never apologized to anyone. Besides, I do not have to apologize by making a statement to England. What is the point of that? To please whom? What annoys me the most is that they repeat this in Argentina and talk to people who know me. They talk about contradictions. At forty-seven, I think it’s stupid to apologize to the English.”

He thinks it is stupid to apologize to the British, but he never said that playing football is stupid. And if we look at the history of FIFA, we will see that it was the Europeans who, for more than 30 years, claimed that playing football was stupid, nonsensical, and economically harmful, while the new land got all the cream.

What happened at the First World Cup in Montevideo

Although FIFA was founded in 1904, its first tournament did not take place until 1930. Before that, football was part of the Olympic Games and had been organized by FIFA since 1914. However, after the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, it was dropped from the future Olympic Games, and FIFA President Jules Rimet decided to organize a separate international tournament – FIFA’s original founding idea, which had failed several times in the past. One of the reasons was that football was an amateur sport at the time, and the Olympic Games included amateur tournaments, which were not profitable but, on the contrary, very expensive for the teams.

Estadio Centenario 1930 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nevertheless, Rimet chose two-time Olympic champion Uruguay as the first host for the inaugural FIFA World Cup. But just two months before the start of the tournament, it seemed that FIFA would have to do without the European teams, who vehemently opposed the venue because Uruguay was far away on the other side of the Atlantic, the journey was long, expensive, and frightening, and the players, who had not yet been paid to play, were afraid of losing their jobs if they traveled to the exotic World Cup.

It was the time of the great economic depression, and the global worldview wasn’t yet popular with clubs and players, so in the end, only 13 teams played for the title in 18 matches and scored a total of 70 goals! Seven teams were from the Americas, while Europe was represented by only four brave countries willing to pay the travel and tournament costs: Yugoslavia, Belgium, France, and Romania. All the European teams arrived in Montevideo on the same ship and had no time to train with the others before the tournament began. 

In the semi-finals, Yugoslavia, the USA, Argentina, and Uruguay met, playing dirty and hard under the strange rule that sick players couldn’t be substituted, and at the mercy of referees who favored Uruguay. Uruguay was in a group with Peru, Romania, and Yugoslavia, and having won against the first two teams, the game against Yugoslavia wasn’t entirely fair. Yugoslavia took the lead, but a goal was disallowed by a strange decision of the referee, while two of Uruguay’s first goals were approved in shady circumstances.

In the large Estadio Centenario stadium, 90000 spectators watched the first final of the first World Cup between Argentina and Uruguay, who had already competed against each other in the 1928 Olympic Games, when Uruguay won. Uruguay repeated their victory over Argentina with a 4-2, thus becoming the first world champions. Needless to say, there was much fuss between Uruguay and Argentina fans, which led to an official deterioration of relations between the two countries. But the bond between world footballers was firmly established, and after a painful and, for many, discouraging start, FIFA was about to experience growth accompanied by embedded political controversy.

Today, FIFA has more country members than the UN and serves as an influential and lucrative platform, reflecting all the prejudices and injustices of our world while deepening the global connection and changing the destinies of countries and players.

As long as football exists, dreams are possible.

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