The hope of the World Cup: Musings of a student blogger

A group of students cheering for their team (photo by Oscar Starschild)

Student blogger Oscar Starschild shares his thoughts on the hope inspired by the World Cup.

Like so many other students, I’ve become possessed by the FIFA World Cup that’s taking place in Qatar - from waking up early, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., to catch a match to staying up late to discuss with friends, or even strangers, some amazing goal that was scored. So, needless to say, it’s been rather challenging to pay attention to anything else.

Why is this event so captivating? Well, according to philosopher Steffen Borge of the Arctic University of Norway, “Human beings are the only creatures known to engage in sport. We are sporting animals and our favourite pastime of football is the biggest sport spectacle on earth.”

I agree with Borge and think that the reason why sport, and the World Cup in particular, is so captivating is because it so strongly reflects the human condition and inspires our collective sense of hope about what’s possible.

Getting to see Canada - my home - represented on the global stage, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride about our team.

What I love most about our team is that it represents the aspiration that anyone, regardless of their background, can belong and become an integral part of something much bigger than themselves. Like Alphonso Davies, who was born in a refugee camp and later moved to Canada. 

Davies played an important role in helping Canada to qualify for the tournament. Though it’s the first time Canada qualified in my life, it’s hopefully not the last, as Canada gets set to co-host the next World Cup in 2026. He also scored Canada’s first ever World Cup goal which, again, hopefully is just the first of many more goals to come. So, I think we can and should have hope about our future and what’s possible.

There’s one more thing that needs to be mentioned about this World Cup.

Much of the discussion about this World Cup, perhaps more than any other before it, is focused on the off-pitch controversies, especially those pertaining to the host nation.

Some of the concerns I’ve heard expressed are totally understandable. Other concerns, however, as were pointed out to me by, Omar, a friend and fellow student with whom I’ve been watching matches, come laced with a noticeable bias against the host nation that targets Qatar’s Muslim society. This kind of targeting, according to Omar, seemed absent when, for example, Russia hosted the event back in 2018.

So, why is Qatar’s Muslim society being targeted? Like Omar, I don’t really understand it. After all, no society is perfect. And, as Omar put it, a lot of this noise around the World Cup risks drowning out the message of the opening ceremony, expressed in a dialogue between Morgan Freeman and Ghanim Al-Muftah.

Freeman asked, how can so many countries, languages and cultures come together if only one way is accepted? To which Ghanim eloquently replied that, “we were raised to believe that we were scattered on this earth as nations and tribes so that we could learn from each other and find beauty in our differences.”

I share the hope of this message and think that it’s of the utmost importance to hope that we may learn from each other and find beauty in our differences, as has been my experience living in a multicultural society like Canada’s.