By Roger Currie
It’s the middle of June and people are still paying big money to watch hockey in places like Texas and Los Angeles. In Brazil meanwhile, not all the seats have sold for the FIFA World Cup which will be lighting up TV screens around the world for the next several weeks.
Soccer is called The Beautiful Game. At the World Cup level, it truly is, but I can’t help but wonder why Canadian men are not there in Rio and Sao Paulo? Are we not told that twice as many Canadian kids play soccer rather than hockey?
The difference in the cost of equipment is one obvious reason. And soccer has always been there. When I was in elementary school in Winnipeg in the 1950’s, we played soccer at recess all winter long. We played even the day after a six inch snowfall, and when it was 20 below and colder. Strange that none of us ever got to compete in the World Cup.
Canadian women do better on soccer’s world stage than our men, and they can draw a crowd. 28,000 recently showed up in Winnipeg for a friendly against the American women. The colourful jerseys that you see at soccer games are fabulous, much cooler than football and hockey shirts.
You might say that the Beautiful Game succeeds despite being run by FIFA, who seem to have raised international corruption to a whole new level. Eight years from now, the plan is to play the World Cup in Qatar in the Persian Gulf. All of a sudden the world is realizing that players might die of heat stroke if they play the games there in June and July.
This year’s event in Brazil is being overshadowed by major allegations of bribery in the awarding of the Cup to Qatar. Isn’t sport supposed to unite the world? Tell that to FIFA.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.