The curtain fell on the month-long football extravaganza with the white and sky blue team finally winning the crowning glory. It is all done and dusted, but the craze for the showpiece event is yet to die down. The bittersweet memories that left the games are still vivid in the minds of football crazy people. They are going over the pros and cons of the tourney with a fine-tune comb. The eventful tournament was an assortment of shock, upset, faith, disbelief, and ecstasy.
Out of some of the compelling features of the tournament that caught viewers’ notice most is frequent use of VAR or video assistant referee. In fact, it saw a marked improvement of what was introduced in the previous world cup in Russia. Fans witnessed in incredulity how the semi-automated technology overturned referee decisions, something that they never saw before in football. There might be controversy over technological interference that has seemingly disrupted the rhythms and paces of the sports. But then, in games where a decision like a wrongly awarded penalty for a team can turn the opponent team’s momentum on its head, the intervention of VAR is certainly not unwelcoming.
Usually games of the group stages are fairly humdrum because of less competitiveness and so called ‘elite teams’ romping home taking the win over underdogs for granted. However, this time the group stages have served up a great deal of entertainment for fans all over the globe. There was hardly any pushover for the ‘big teams’. Instead, matches saw fierce competition, turnaround and suspense. Until the last minute of the last match all bets were off, so nobody could know which teams were going through to the next round.
Hence, the tournament was full of shocking upsets, thumping wins, individual moments of brilliance, and high drama. Less favorite Morocco stood head and shoulder above the rest by inflicting defeats to other teams on its way to the semifinal, although found itself falling short while taking on France. While less favorite Atlas Lion stunned others by posing formidable challenges, the Samurai Blue rose to the occasion beating both heavyweights Spain and Germany 2-1. This culminated in the early exit of four-time World champion Germany on the bounce.
Belgium and Uruguay too failed to live up to the expectations. Interestingly, no team won all three-group games. Moreover, the podium contender Brazil’s premature exit, having crashed out in an encounter with Croatia in the last eight, bemused the world.
Unlike other host nations, Qatar failed to impress audiences in their own tournament, losing all three of their group games. Its lackluster demonstration, however, has hardly come as a surprise because Qatar is not a football crazy nation and barely had the infrastructure in place in time for the tournament.
Undoubtedly, the world watched the most gripping final between Argentina and France in the long history of the World Cup. Quite predictably, both teams fought neck and neck. As La Albiceleste took an early lead, Les Bleus staged a comeback moments later and the turn and twist of the game went down to the wire. It was a scintillating display of nail-biting, cliffhanger and end-to-end game which stretched rivetingly into extra time with stalemate to break, and then to be finally decided through penalty shootouts. The long-awaited championship win assures the football wonder Lionel Messi’s place in the sun.
Take the gesticulation of Japanese football manager Hajime Moriyasu, which went viral and received widespread appreciation from all four corners of the world. Japanese fans were crestfallen after their team’s botched-up penalty shootout against Croatia that shuttered their dream of reaching the quarterfinals. Despite being apparently divested, the down-to-earth football manager captured everyone's attention by bowing to the Al Janoub Stadium fans. The pictures of his respectful gesture not only took the fans worldwide by storms but also set off conversations about how staying humble and showing one’s true character matters.
Furthermore, the world cup games can be a pointer to manage and exploit resources well and on time in other spheres of our lives. Unless it is done effectively, the whole plan may go pear-shaped, which is what was seen in the match between Portugal and Morocco. Soon after Cristiano Ronaldo's World Cup campaign ended in despair with a defeat to Morocco, there has been a talking point about how to use him effectively and at the right time. Portugal’s greatest forward started the knockout games sitting at the dugout, and had little impact after being brought onto the pitch. He ended his World Cup journey scoring just once. The incident leaves the lessons of a lifetime for organizations and individuals to put to use the best resources when required, rather than waiting for a later opportunity.
As statistics shows, some 2.7 million audiences enjoyed the tournament attending eight space-age stadia across the tiny country. The ruckus fan enjoyed thoroughly rooting for their teams by wearing jerseys, tattoos, bowlers, and colorful outfits. They sang song, humming catchy chorus, blared music, beat drums to cheer their teams on. There was hardly any rowdiness among the revelers.
Contrary to the picture, here in Bangladesh a legion of supporters were found going wild and hurling abuse to the rival followers. They took to social media flood with hatred, memes, made up images, and pithy comments during the tournament. They seemed to more of busy demeaning others, than celebrating and sharing joy with each other, which in no way go with the spirit of football. Football is a global sports and the world cup tournament is a rendezvous of people from diverse backgrounds. It teaches us mingling with other, sharing joy with one another and celebrating together. Each game is an archetype of hard work, team building, decision-making, displaying skills and a test of patience and mettle. Can we learn lessons from it?
The writer is a columnist and IT
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