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Why communists love the World Cup

Commentary by Foster Richards |
June 15, 2010
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Joy. Not just for communists, but anyone. You could see it when New Zealand’s Winston Reid surprised everyone with his first international goal as time ran out on the match against Slovakia. It was a good goal, but his joy, that of his teammates and ‘Kiwis’ everywhere was unsurpassed. Celebration at its best! This is repeated over and over at each World Cup.

I walked into the tavern. At first I seemed to be in Green Bay on an autumn Sunday. Everyone was wearing green and gold. But it wasn’t the Packers they were there to see, but Brazil. The most glorious most skilled players in world seem to come from Brazil. If your country’s soccer team is ‘no good’ or you want to adopt a new country for any reason, Brazil is the overwhelming choice.

Like a Chicago Bear fan in northern Wisconsin, I joined the hundreds wearing green and gold, but to root for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The DPRK were heavy underdogs. However, by using a strategy that focused on defense, they were able to prevent the Brazilians from scoring until well into the second half. 

The Brazilian players’ footwork was dazzling, yet there were no goals until the 54th minute when Maicon curved the ball around the post just outside the Korean goalkeeper’s reach. It was a phenomenal goal. The fans in the tavern went crazy. Even we few DPRK fans couldn’t help but clap. Suspense… suspense…Goal! Celebration! You got to love it.

Soccer is primarily a working class sport in most places around the world. It inspires passion like no other sport. Soccer has speed, strength, but most especially grace and balance. Brazil’s Pele correctly called it, “the beautiful game.”

The World Cup takes this game and puts it on an international stage once every four years. For Americans, think of having the Super Bowl only once every four years. That means four years of buildup. Think of not just the United States, but teams in every city in the world. Then each country takes its very best players to make up a national team. That is the World Cup.

The political discussions at the pubs around the world are fabulous. Workers discuss South American powers like Brazil and Argentina beating imperialist countries from Europe. The controversial Argentine coach Diego Maradoni regularly speaks out on behalf of the poor and the working class. He praises Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. 

The business pages of the bourgeois newspapers blame the European countries they have labeled PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) for the world’s current economic problems. All of these countries have qualified and are predicted to do well at the world cup in South Africa.

Here in the USA, immigrants gather to root for their country of origin and debate the quality of the USA team. The USA was a joke until recently. Since the 1994 World Cup was held here in the United States more and more resources have gone into soccer development. Today, American youth participate in soccer more than any other sport.

Finally, hats off to the hosts, the people of South Africa. They root for their team, the Bafana Bafana with pride, enthusiasm and of course, joy. They cannot stop blowing their vuvuzela horns. At first this annoys the hell out of you, but then it grows on you. It wouldn’t be South African without them.

And then there is the politics of South Africa…the struggle to bring down the racist system of Apartheid, a system supported by U.S. and European imperialism. People of conscience around the world stood with the oppressed people of South Africa to end apartheid. How is South Africa doing today? Why?

It is halftime. Time for a beer. Time to talk to the other workers in the tavern about the world situation, working class solidarity and…oh yeah…wasn’t that a great goal by Ji Yun Nam (DPRK)? Of course communists love the World Cup. What’s not to love?

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