Spain and Netherlands will finally get their chance to play in the World Cup finals today. Netherlands has an unbelievable winning record so far and Spain will be a rightfully dignified adversary in the final showdown. For the first time, one of these teams will walk away with the World Cup trophy. However, there is a bit or irony in all of this.
After a cruel history of apartheid in South Africa ruled by the Afrikaners who were of Dutch decent, it must feel weird to see the Netherlands have so much success on South African soil. However, it is no reflection of the players of the game just an odd irony of history.
Soccer, isn’t just a ball game which is why the World Cup is a genius way to promote superficial diplomacy while the history of every country participating is not exempt from the larger implications of victories and losses.
Even while playing a simple boardgame of ‘Risk’ (a strategy game for world domination) it only takes a few rounds for politics and cultural backgrounds to surface. It may be a dilemma for South Africans to choose between the two teams because they may feel conflicted by the history of colonial rule.
I wonder if this game is similar to a situation where the World Cup was held in Israel and Germany was in the finals, how would the Israelis feel? We believe in forgiving, but not forgetting, but it must be strange.
The World Cup is a global convention like the Olympics, a venue where human excellence in athletics are celebrated and nations have a chance to come together. The suspension of all biases and inequalities may be an alien idea to most people, but for at least the duration of the sport we have a chance to glorify each nation as they compete.
The South Africans put on a great show for the past month. These games were an amazing accomplishment for the host country and for the continent. The world got to see South Africa in all of its glory and beauty. However, it may be weird for their former colonizer to win on their soil after being liberated from Apartheid. But in some ways, the outcome either way could be liberating because South Africa is growing independently and can stand proudly on a stage like they did for the World Cup as a participant and a host.
Desmond Tutu once said, ‘Without forgiveness, there’s no future.’
Watching European domination replayed through soccer could be bittersweet, but it is a testimant to the people of South Africa who has amazingly forgiven those of their former oppressor. It is no fault of the players but world history is perpetuated through all forms of activity. Are events such as the World Cup an opportunity for ameliorating past transgressions, or does it simply perpetuate ugly strains of history and re-open historical wounds?
The World Cup Final will ultimately have one winner but the outcome won’t discount the astounding journey that South Africans have gone through to be such a gracious host and an excellent competitor. To some soccer may just be an entertaining sport, but at the World Cup people can experience