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The World Cup is a grandiose spectacle celebrating a beautifully simple game. It is a complicated event, ripping through a country struggling to overcome economic disparity like an unrelenting cyclone, sure to leave behind a mess Brazilians will be forced to clean up. A Jules Rimet trophy would be a fleeting moment of bliss for Brazil, followed shortly by more protests aimed at a government’s reckless spending and a corrupt, laughable organization. FIFA is the oil spill tainting the rich, expansive ocean of international soccer, an international punching bag that appears to grow stronger despite sustaining Tyson-like haymakers from global media regularly.
The collective enthusiasm for the World Cup has never been higher in the United States of America. USA sends a team with a spitfire manager aimed at systemically overhauling the country’s reputation and style. There are prodigies teeming with talent and stalwarts that have earned respect at the highest levels of club soccer. Coverage by ESPN, which will broadcast the tournament domestically, has exceeded expectations leading up to the event and most certainly will continue to do so moving forward. No amount of turmoil and corruption can quell the wellspring of support that seems to grow a little more every four years.
These next 32 days will ask us to look past the shiny veneer FIFA has slapped on the site of the world’s most popular tournament. And for the most part, we will. We won’t think of favelas crumbling when Michael Bradley laces a through ball to Clint Dempsey. We won’t think of gross economic disparity when Lionel Messi embarrasses grown men with maddening runs and touches. We won’t think of Sepp Blatter the Puppet Master when Luis Suarez strikes a goal with an unmatched fury. We will soak in the moments, both memorable and heartbreaking, hoping for better in the future but expecting more oil to contaminate the game we love.