World Cup brings the world together

The FIFA World Cup — the biggest sporting event in the world — kicks off today in Russia. I love the World Cup, not only because I share a love of soccer with my family, but also because it brings players and fans together from all over the world.

The opening match today, for example, features host Russia against Saudi Arabia. The group stage also will include such varied matchups as Australia vs. Peru, Argentina vs. Iceland, Costa Rica vs. Serbia, South Korea vs. Germany, Panama vs. Tunisia and Japan vs. Poland. The global game truly does bring the world together in ways unseen even in the Olympics. Even rooting against each other, these countries’ supporters share a common goal on a common ground and can enjoy spirited (and hopefully friendly) competition.

During the World Cup over the next month, I will be traveling with my family to England, Spain and Portugal — all proud and prominent soccer countries with passionate and hopeful supporters. I am looking forward to seeing fans from these three rival countries uniting around the same event. In fact, Spain and Portugal play each other tomorrow.

Of course, it’s too bad that the United States didn’t qualify for the tournament — although I was delighted yesterday to read that the United States (together with Canada and Mexico) will host the 2026 World Cup. Without the U.S. team in the World Cup this year for the first time in 32 years, it allows us even more opportunity to watch and learn about — and root for — other countries.

Over the past few weeks, my son and I have been collecting stickers of all the players. It has been fun talking about the various participant countries and debating who is going to win. My mother is from Spain and my father is from England, so, of course, we are rooting for Spain or England to win the World Cup. Actually, I’m leaning more toward England because the beloved Three Lions have not won it since before I was born. In fact, that was the only time England, playing on home soil, has hoisted the Cup.

My money, however, is on another European team that has never won the World Cup before, with some very experienced players and a top goalkeeper who plays for a prominent London club. Any idea which team I mean? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or share your guess on our Twitter (@Hart_Travel) or Facebook pages.

And, while you’re at, let me know who you're rooting for and who you think will win!

Enjoy the World Cup!

Steve Hart
Hart Travel Partners

P.S. If you are interested in attending a soccer match during your faculty-led study abroad program with Hart Travel Partners, we would be happy to help arrange that.

Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr (CC license)