I am not a lover of football but seeing how passionate people are about it and its miraculous doings, I think I should support a club. I realise football is not just a form of sport but a bond builder. It is incredible how sport – football – unites people of different origins, races, castes, tribes or religion. The grudges between people get resolved just at the mention of either a famous football player or a recently-played football match. How we argue frantically just to justify who the best player is?
Unavoidably, the world is steeped in divisions and schisms with countries going to war notwithstanding the cataclysmic consequences. People grudgingly hold on to their differences without intention for reconciliation. The world has become a wasteland of zombies hungering and waiting to pounce on each other. However, football has proven to be a powerful and effective tool in conjuring the spirit of unification amongst men, even in the face of our differences. For instance, the war which started in 2002 between the Nothern Muslims of Ivory Coast and the Southern Christians of Ivory Coast ended in 2006 when the country qualified for 2006 World Cup in Germany. Didier Drogba, the star player and a hugely popular figure in the country, begged both warring parties to stop their fights on national TV. The football team which comprised people from different tribes and religions helped the country to end its bloody conflicts.
Moving on, football helps to tackle cultural barriers. The 2022 World Cup had 32 countries around the globe as participants. According to a report, over 2.40 million spectators attended the World Cup. These spectators were of different religions, education levels and backgrounds, tribes, races, and so on. They all put aside these differences as they came together with a common goal – to determine the world football champion. The FIFA World Cup, through the power of football, brings people together to cross borders, unite, and celebrate together. The world unites through a global movement to inspire, unite, and develop through football.
Mandela said in 2000, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there is only despair”.
This quote strongly reiterates the fact that football is an effective tool in bond building. Football is arguably the most popular sport. It is popular among children and adults. It can be played by girls or boys. It is a sport played by over 200 million people in over 100 countries and dependencies making it the world’s most popular sport.
Finally, football is a unique and an important sport that blends people together, both across and within societies. It unites people regardless of tribe, background or race.
Ajenifuja is a student in the Department of English, Lagos State University.