By The Hunger
June 11th is just around the corner and the whole world (even New Zealand) is getting ready for FIFA World Cup 2010. Whilst everyone with a passport has an automatic favourite, the tournament is limited to only 32 nations. With 30 countries destined not to make the final and 161 nations without a home team, whom do they choose to support in their home country’s absence?
The following 32 teams qualified for the tournament:
|Korea DPR||Korea Republic|
Arsenal or Manchester United, Real Madrid or Barcelona, Boca or River? Teams embody their region and the people that live there. There are one thousand different ways to score a goal. African and European football teams’ styles both reveal the different brains behind the legs that kick the same Adidas football. Same bodies, different psychology, no two styles are identical.
Why is it that we feel more of an allegiance to a country, city, or team (even when our team isn’t playing) though we might not know anything about the place? If little known countries Lesotho and Comoros were playing in the World Cup final, which team would you cheer on and why?
I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to make a decision after you checked out their flag, watched their playing style, consulted Wikipedia or heard a sound bite from a commentator or player. In a word – information; in fact, any bit of information that’ll make this foreign place seem more familiar.
Ultimately, it’d come down to what your gut instinct tells you and which country you relate to more. Paraguay or Uruguay? Slovenia or Slovakia? Geographically and phonetically they look like cousins; however, the 3-5 letter difference misrepresents their cultural proximity.
Positive and negative experiences with a nation or nationality are captured in the mind for later information retrieval. I had a great time in Argentina a few years ago, so I have an affinity for all things Argentinean. Maybe if I had had a disastrous holiday or bad experience with the people I’d be happily anti-Argentinean and root for the team they were playing against.
Sport is modern day warfare, and with war comes politics: both the football and world varieties. (Read Atlas Al’s post, No one is a winner in Cabinda, about the Togolese football team getting shot up by Angolan rebels.) When we support one team over another, there are many factors that affect our decision.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone supporting the North Korean team unless they had a peculiar penchant for Stalinist underdogs. If North Korea were to win the cup, their “axis of evil” brand would never have sounded so good.
South Africa will have monumental support from everyone considering they’re the host and everyone knows what it would do for the country. (As it did when they won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.)
Cuisine, history, culture, politics, women? Everyone loves watching the Swedish fans as much as the game – could how beautiful the women are be another factor in determining one’s Honorary Citizenship? Maybe if it were a Miss Universe pageant I would go on beauty, but for me it wouldn’t come into the World Cup equation. (Having said that, I’ll probably be watching the foreign fans as much as the game.)
Whilst we’re all citizens, our Honorary Citizenship preference can also change depending on the situation. For example, Brazil is always a crowd favourite because of its magical plays and all round sporting panache. They’re in their own element – the same cannot be said about its ice hockey team.
Every man has a story. So too does every country that wears the World Cup crown for 4 years. If your team isn’t in contention, it’s always good to have an Honorary Citizenship, an honorary country, to bet on.