As the world’s most popular sport, soccer unites people unlike any other pastime. It is played in more than 150 countries throughout the globe with over 250 million participants and three billion fans. Soccer is played across all geographical boundaries by every culture, every religion and every ethnic group.
To this point, here are a few quotes made before the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil regarding the unifying effect of soccer throughout the world.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
“The sport has an extraordinary power to spontaneously unite the people.”
Franz Beckenbauer, former player and German football coach and manager
“Football is one of the best means of communication. It is impartial, apolitical and universal. Football unites people around the world every day. Young or old, players or fans, rich or poor. The game makes everyone equal, stirs the imagination, makes people happy and makes people sad.”
“Sport is not only a form of entertainment but also a tool to communicate values that promote the good that is in humans and build a more peaceful and fraternal society.”
Since soccer has the ability to bring together fans from all walks of life, it makes what took place on Friday outside the Stade de France in Paris even more upsetting.
It’s been speculated that the terrorists targeted the Stade de France as the match between France and Germany involved two Christian nations. Whatever the motive was, there is no reasoning for attacks such as those that took place in Paris.
Proving that the terrorists’ thinking is ridiculously flawed, France is a multicultural society. While the majority of its residents identify as Christians, France is a country where freedom of religion and of thought is guaranteed in the country’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
Even more glaring is the fact that many of the players on both the French and German squads identify as Muslim.
Sami Khedira, Shkodran Mustafi, Emre Can, Mesut Ozil and Karim Benzema are just a few of the practicing Muslims on the German national team.
Meanwhile the French squad has many players who identify as Muslim. Among those are defender Bacary Sagna, midfielders Paul Pogba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Moussa Sissoko.
If there’s any need for further proof that the reasoning of these terrorists is completely misguided, consider French midfielder Lassana Diarra. Diarra, a Muslim of Senegalese descent played in Friday’s match and later learned that one of the victims of the Paris attacks was his own cousin.
Diarra took to Twitter afterwards and his words are fitting for all of us trying to understand something that simply cannot be understood.
In this climate of terror, it is important for all of us who are representatives of our country and its diversity, to speak and to remain united against a horror that has no colour, no religion. Defend all the love, respect and peace. Thank you all for your testimony and your messages, take care of yourself, and that our victims rest in peace.